Robert A Saunders, PhD

Professor of Geopolitics and International Relations

The State University of New York (SUNY)

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. A Professor in the Department of History, Politics, and Geography at Farmingdale State College - SUNY, Saunders teaches courses on International Relations and human geography. Professor Saunders holds a Ph.D. in Global Affairs from Rutgers University and degrees in History from Stony Brook University  and the University of Florida.

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 image management. His co-edited volume Popular Geopolitics: Plotting an Evolving Interdiscipline (Routledge, 2018) reflects on and expands the scope of this research agenda. Professor Saunders' most recent monograph is Geopolitics, Northern Europe, and Nordic Noir: What Television Series Tell Us About World Politics, which was published by Routledge's Popular Culture and World Politics series in 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, Professor 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. He 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). Professor Saunders is a member of the editorial board of Academic Quarter/Akademisk kvarter and an Affiliate Partner of the Centre for Transnational Media Research at Aarhus University.

In addition to his academic activities, Professor Saunders also works as an independent brand consultant, assisting clients in place- and nation-branding campaigns, as well providing strategic thinking in the areas of sustainability, biosecurity, and the effective use of provenance attributes to establish corporate quiddity in the rapidly-evolving global marketplace.

Recent Publications

'Geopolitics on the "Other Side": Counterpart’s Imaginary of a World System after the Virus', Geopolitics, pre-print available online

'Geysers, Game of Thrones, and Geopolitics: Iceland as a Zone of Strategic Tourism' (with Simon Halink), Tourism Geopolitics: Assemblages of Infrastructure, Affect, and Imagination, eds. Matilde Cordoba Azcarate, Mary Mostafanezhad and Roger Norum, University of Arizona Press (2021), pp. 113-135

'Televisual Diplomacy: I am the Ambassador and Danish Nation Branding at Home and Abroad' (with Joel Vessels), Politics, 39(4), 2019, pp. 430-447

'Small Screen IR: A Tentative Typology of Geopolitical Television', Geopolitics, 24(3), 2019, pp. 691-727

'Pissing On the Past: The Highland Clearances, Effigial Resistance and the Everyday Politics of the Urinal', (with Rhys Crilley), Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 47(3), 2019, pp. 444-469