Biographical Information

Name: Robert A. Saunders, PhD
Title: Distinguished Professor
University: Farmingdale State College, a campus of the State University of New York (SUNY)
Department: History, Politics, and Geography
Mailing Address: 2350 Broadhollow Road, Farmingdale, New York 11735 USA
Office: Memorial Hall, 231
Tel: +1 (934) 420-2721
US Mobile: +1 (732) 991 2416

Scholarship Profiles


Campus Liaison for United Nations Academic Impact

Director of the Minor in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (MEIS)

Member of the Editorial Board: Akademisk kvarter | Academic Quarter

Academic Affiliations: British International Studies Association (BISA); European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA); Association of American Geographers (AAG)

Robert A. Saunders is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of History, Politics, and Geography at Farmingdale State College-SUNY, having joined the college in 2006. He also served as Chair of the Science, Technology & Science B.S. program from 2012-2015 and Director of International Education and Programs (2015-2016). Professor Saunders has previously taught at Rutgers University, American Public University (APUS), Adelphi University, and Monmouth University. He has also given master classes in Lithuania, Denmark,  Germany, and the UK, as well as previously holding visiting researcher positions at the University of Leeds (2014), Aarhus University (2018), and Malmö University (2019).

Professor Saunders' research explores the changing nature of national, religious, and political identity in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. His doctoral research focused on the impact of the Internet on national identity among minority populations in the former Soviet Union, specifically ethnic Russians in Latvia and Kazakhstan. His early work examined textual and visual manifestations of minority nationalism, and its often unpredictable influence on world affairs and geographical imagination. This interest led him to investigate the battle for Kazakhstan's national image against the backdrop of Sacha Baron Cohen's 'Borat' parody of the Central Asian republic and the complexities of nation branding in a world defined by Fremdbebilderung or the state of being 'totally engulfed by foreign images'.

Over the past decade, Professor Saunders has focused on the role of television, film, novels, comics, and other popular media in the everyday conceptualization of geopolitics, from Putin parody videos to Black Panther (2018). Beginning in 2015, he began a wide-ranging exploration of Nordic noir television series and their impact on geographical imagination and geopolitical cultures across and beyond northern Europe. His current research agenda explores the Anthropo(s)cene, or how climate change, mass extinction, and other unpredictable outcomes of humans' terraforming of the planet are represented in dystopian films, cli-fi novels, and other forms of cultural production.

For information about his consulting work, please click here.

Press Appearances

'Borgen: The Greatest Political Drama Ever', BBC Culture (30 May 2022)

'Television and Geopolitics: A Conversation on the Nordics' - an interview with Nicola Witcombe for (9 April 2021)

Interview on 'Screen Tourism, Nation Branding and the Nordic Noir Effect' with The Place Band Observer (10 December 2020)

'Dr. Robert Saunders on Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat and Political Satire in 2020' NewsPoint360 (24 November 2020)

'These countries have no reports of coronavirus cases. But can they be trusted?' USA Today (6 May 2020)

'What the TV series "The Bridge" tells the world about Malmö', Sydsvenskan (6 December 2019)

'American researcher: Most associate Malmö with The Bridge', Radio Sweden (6 December 2019)

'The Winners and Losers of Nation Branding', World Affairs (23 December 2015)

'Imagine There's No Country...' on Life Matters, RTE - Irish National Radio (15 March 2015)

'At U.S. Colleges, Chinese-Financed Centers Prompt Worries About Academic Freedom', Chronicle of Higher Education (22 October 2010)

Reviews of Scholarship

'Review of Geopolitics, Northern Europe, and Nordic Noir: What Television Series Tell Us about World Politics', by Rosemary Erickson Johnsen, Scandinavian Studies (Winter 2022)

'Review of Popular Geopolitics: Plotting an Evolving Interdiscipline', by Darren Purcell, The AAG Review of Books (July 2019)

'Review of Popular Geopolitics and Nation Branding in the Post-Soviet Realm', by Daniel Bos, Social & Cultural Geography (July 2017)

'Review of Ethnopolitics in Cyberspace',  by Kristy A. Belton, Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism (October 2012)

'Review of The Many Faces of Sacha Baron Cohen', by Sally Cummings, Slavic Review (Summer 2011)