Les Back was born in Croydon in south London and studied at both undergraduate and postgraduate level at Goldsmiths, University of London. He received a PhD in social anthropology in 1991. He subsequently worked at the Institute of Education, Birkbeck College and the Department of Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham before returning to Goldsmiths in 1993.
Back is the author of the The Art of Listening (2007), ''Out of Whiteness: Color, Politics and Culture (2003 with Vron Ware), The Changing Face of Football: Racism, Identity and Multicuture in the English Game (2001) with T Crabbe and J. Solomos, New Ethnicities and Urban Culture: Racisms and Multiculture in Young Lives(1996), Racism and Society (1996 with John Solomos) and Race, Politics and Social Change (1995 with John Solomos). In addition he has edited three volumes The Auditory Cultures Reader (2003 with Michael Bull), Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader (2000 with John Solomos) and (1993) (co-editor with Anoop Nayak) Invisible Europeans?: Black people in the ‘New Europe’ (1993 with Anoop Nayak).
Back's work focuses on the issues of race, racism, popular culture and belonging, discussed with ethnographic research often based in south London. He also writes journalism contributing regularly to The Guardian, Times Higher Educational Supplement and the New Humanist as well as contributing to on-line magazines including openDemocracy.net and Eurozine.
- (2011) 'Academic Diary' 
- (2008) 'Sociologist's Talking', Sociological Research on-line 
- (2008) “Beaches and graveyards”: Europe’s haunted borders, Eurozine 
- (2008) “An ordinary virtue”, New Jewish Thought,
- (2006) 'Phobocity' Eurozine 
- (2007) The Art of Listening Oxford and New York: Berg Publishers
- (2007) Written in Stone Working Papers Goldsmiths, University of London, London 
- (2003) (co-editor with Michael Bull) The Auditory Cultures Reader Oxford: Berg
- (2002) (co-author with Vron Ware) Out of Whiteness: Color, Politics and Culture Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press
- (2001) (co-author with T Crabbe and J. Solomos) The Changing Face of Football: Racism, Identity and Multicuture in the English Game Oxford: Berg
- (2001) Love's Repair, Opendemcoracy 
- (2000) (co-editor with John Solomos) Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader London: Routledge
- (1996) New Ethnicities and Urban Culture: Racisms and Multiculture in Young Lives London: UCL Press
- (1996) (co-author with John Solomos) (1996) Racism and Society Basingstoke: Macmillan Press Ltd
- (1995) (co-author with John Solomos) Race, Politics and Social Change London & New York: Routledge
- (1993) (co-editor with Anoop Nayak) Invisible Europeans?: Black people in the ‘New Europe’ Birmingham: AFFOR
Written in Stone (2008) Sociology Working papers, Goldsmiths, University of London http://www.sussex.ac.uk/sociology/1-4-11.html