Laurence Blair is a journalist and historian. Born in 1991 in Dorset, he studied Ancient and Modern History at Oxford University, specialising in early medieval Europe and colonial Latin America, before taking an MA in International Law and International Relations. A stint teaching English in Russia during the annexation of Crimea followed, before he moved to South America to work as a freelance journalist.
He has reported from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru for international outlets such as The Guardian, The Economist, and the Financial Times. He is one of the only foreign journalists to have covered Paraguay’s small-but-bloody drug war, or to report on the Paraguayan People’s Army, a shadowy guerrilla group.
He works as a Latin America analyst for The Economist Intelligence Unit. He has been quoted and interviewed by Diario Financiero, Pulso, Brasil Observer, Radio Colombia, Radio France Internationale, the BBC, and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, and addressed the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Latin America.
In January 2016, DREAMS OF THE SEA, his long-form report on Bolivia’s quest to regain ocean access, won the Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay Prize and was published as an e-book, making him (at 24) the award’s youngest winner so far. Simon Schama, one of the judges, said that Laurence had “invented a completely new genre: magical journalism, at once fantastical and pragmatically droll, full of weird wit but also a deep sensitivity.”
Laurence’s first book explores the history and after-lives of some of South America’s “lost” and imagined countries, nations and territories. Drawing on historical research and contemporary reporting, it will be published by Bodley Head in 2020.
Laurence lives in London, and enjoys long-distance hiking, climbing, and performing improvised comedy. You can follow him on twitter @LABlair1492