ROBERT A. SAUNDERS, Ph.D.

Biography

Robert A. Saunders is a leading scholar of popular geopolitics, as well as an internationally-recognized researcher in the field of nation branding. His geographic areas of focus include Russia, Central Asia, and Nordic Europe. His research explores the impact of popular culture and mass media on geopolitics, nationalism, and religious identity. His articles have appeared in Millennium, Geopolitics, Political Geography, Politics, Social & Cultural Geography, Progress in Human Geography, Nations and Nationalism, Slavic Review and Europe-Asia Studies, as well as other journals. He curated the "Popular Culture and IR" blog channel at E-International Relations from 2015 until late 2018. A Professor in the Department of History, Politics, and Geography at Farmingdale State College - SUNY, Dr. Saunders teaches courses on International Relations and human geography. In addition to his role as an instructor, he also serves as the campus liaison to the United Nations. Professor Saunders holds a Ph.D. in Global Affairs from Rutgers University and degrees in History from Stony Brook University (M.A.) and the University of Florida (B.A.).

Based on his extensive work on Kazakhstan's feud with the British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, Harper's labeled him the "world's leading Boratologist." His 2008 book on the subject is entitled The Many Faces of Sacha Baron Cohen: Politics, Parody, and the Battle over Borat. Building on this research, Popular Geopolitics and Nation Branding in the Post-Soviet Realm (Routledge, 2017) explores the tension between Western pop-culture representations of the fifteen former Soviet republics and their own attempts at country branding. His co-edited volume Popular Geopolitics: Plotting an Evolving Interdiscipline (Routledge, 2018) reflects on and expands the scope of this research agenda. Professor Saunders is currently completing a monograph entitled Geopolitics, Northern Europe, and Nordic Noir series for Routledge (due out in winter 2020-2021). His next book, Landscape and Television - Bodies, Geopolitics, and Ecologies (co-authored with Irina Souch and Anne Marit Waade), is under contract with Palgrave.

In 2016, Dr. Saunders was awarded the prestigious Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities, a system-wide accolade for sustained scholarship presented by the State University of New York (SUNY). Dr. Saunders has held visiting researcher positions at the University of Leeds (School of Modern Languages and Cultures' Leeds Russian Centre), Aarhus University (School of Communication and Culture - Media Studies), and Malmö University (Institute for Urban Research - IUR). He is an Honorary Fellow of the Leeds Russian Centre; additionally, he is an Affiliate Partner of the Centre for Transnational Media Research at Aarhus University as well as with the DETECt: Detecting Transcultural Identity in European Popular Crime Narratives, funded by a European Union Horizon 2020 grant.

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Recent Publications

Televisual Diplomacy: I am the Ambassador and Danish Nation Branding at Home and Abroad" (with Joel Vessels) 
Politics, 39(4), 2019, pp. 430-447
Pissing On the Past: The Highland Clearances, Effigial Resistance and the Everyday Politics of the Urinal (with Rhys Crilley)
Geopolitical Television at the (B)order: Liminality, Global Politics, and World-Building in The Bridge
Social & Cultural Geography, 20(7), 2019, pp. 981-1003
Small Screen IR: A Tentative Typology of Geopolitical Television
Geopolitics, 24(3), 2019, pp. 691-727
(Profitable) Imaginaries of Black Power: The Popular and Political Geographies of Black Panther
Political Geography, 69, 2019, pp. 139-149

Research

Ongoing research projects, abstracts of peer-refereed articles, and links to books and other publications.

Presentations

Conference papers, public speeches, and other presentations.

Teaching

Pedagogical philosophy, a list of courses taught, an overview of online teaching methodologies, sample course content, etc.

Blog

Short essays and analytical pieces on topical issues associated with my research, scholarship, and teaching.

Photos

Photos, images, and other visual documents related to my research, scholarship, and teaching.