Peter Peregrine stands in front of Main Hall.
Portrait on Main Hall Green: Peter Peregrine (photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.


Peter Peregrine, professor of anthropology, is an explorer of the past.

With a focus on the evolution of complex societies, the anthropologist has taught courses on world prehistory, historic preservation, and museum studies, among others, since joining the Lawrence faculty in 1995. He also curates Lawrence’s sizable collection of archaeological and ethnographic artifacts housed in Briggs Hall.

He and his students often can be found using remote sensing tools that allow them to search archaeological sites without disturbing the ground. Locally, that includes helping municipalities and landowners identify unmarked graves in old cemeteries. His work with remote sensing and archaeological studies has taken him to locations around the world over the past two and a half decades.

Peregrine earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a Ph.D. at Purdue University.

We caught up with him to talk about interests in and out of the classroom.

In the classroom

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

That I’m a human being just like them, with all the flaws and foibles they have, so just chill.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

Honestly, it’s teaching. I‘ve told others that I’m a vampire who feeds off the energy of the young. That’s honestly how I feel. COVID absolutely killed me—no energy at all.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

I’ve done archaeological research on every continent except Australia. And Antarctica, but that never had people (as far as we know, though some think Atlantis is buried under the ice ...). I trained as a Midwestern archaeologist; I never thought I would spend my career working all over the world.

Out of the classroom

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing?  

I have no idea. Right now I am training to become a chaplain as a second career when I retire from teaching, so maybe that? 

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

It’s not actually on campus, but I am able to walk to and from work every day across the trestle bridge, and that is so lovely. The water, the ducks and geese, the eagles; there are sometimes even deer on the banks. It clears my mind.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

That’s very, very hard to narrow down. For a film I guess it would be Fellini’s 8 ½ because it is such a wonderful exploration of, in the words of William Faulkner, “the human heart in conflict with itself.”  And speaking of Faulkner, I would recommend any of Faulkner’s novels (except maybe Pylon); perhaps the Snopes trilogy of The Hamlet, The Town, and The Mansion as a place to start. Music, wow, that’s even harder. My favorite album is Richard Thompson’s Henry the Human Fly. It is a seminal piece of British folk-rock by one of the greatest guitarists of all time.