Source: Drago Prvulovic/Øresundsbro Konsortie

Current Projects

The thrust of my current research agenda explores the intersections between screened fiction (specifically dramatic television series), geopolitics, and (trans)national identities. My core project is Geopolitics, Northern Europe, and Nordic Noir: What Television Series Tell Us About World Politics (Routledge, 2021). This text builds on my previous work on: 1) developing a typology of geopolitical television (Geopolitics); 2) the role of The Bridge and its first two adaptations in premediating geopolitical developments in Sweden/Denmark, U.S./Mexico, and Great Britain/France (Social & Cultural Geography); and 3) my analysis of the Finnish-Russian border zone in the series Bordertown (TV/Series). Ancillary projects include a visiting researcher position at Malmö University, a  large-scale collaboration with colleagues at Aarhus University, University of Leeds, and University of Bologna on screening the so-called 'Refugee Crisis' and the impact of televisual interventions on social and civic cohesion across Europe, and several book chapters on crime drama, neoliberalism, and transnational issues, including one on adapting Nordic noir in the center of global neoliberalism, i.e. London, via the series Marcella and another on the (geo)politics of the dead body in Arctic television drama, and a third on the border-crossings and border-crossers in Nordic noir. Additionally, I contributed two articles to a special issue of Nordicom Review on geopolitics and Nordic noir (which I  also co-edited); in the first, I examine the depiction of (geo)political landscapes in the Norwegian series Occupied and Nobel, while in the second Pei-Sze Chow, Anne Marit Waade, and I interrogate the changing nature of Nordic noir when transplanted outside the region (specifically The Bridge's adaptation in Malaysia-Singapore).

I also have a recently-published article in Global Society (co-authored with Hanne Bruun) on how Danish comedian Jonatan Spang’s satirical rendering of The Bridge’s dynamics is being used as a tool for interrogating differences in political culture between Danes and Swedes, specifically those related to gender, ethnicity, migration, and free speech. Tangentially, this research also informed my co-authored chapters 'Geysers, Game of Thrones, and Geopolitics: Iceland as a Zone of Strategic Tourism' (with Simon Halink), which appeared in Tourism Geopolitics: Assemblages of Infrastructure, Affect, and Imagination, eds. Matilde Cordoba Azcarate, Mary Mostafanezhad and Roger Norum (University of Arizona Press, 2021), as well as my article focusing on Norwegian national identity against the backdrop of the migration crisis via the TV series Beforeigners which was published in a special issue on sf in cultural geographies. I also have a forthcoming chapter entitled 'Screening Arctic Landscapes in Nordic Television Drama: Anthropocenic Imaginaries, Ecological Crises, National Identities' (with Irina Souch and Anne Marit Waade) in Photography, Geopolitics, and the Northern Landscape in the Era of Environmental Crisis, eds. Chris Goldie, Darcy White and Julia Peck (De Gruyter, 2023). This most recent undertaking signals a shift in my focus towards (more-than-)visual representations of the Anthropocene Epoch and its planetary ramifications on screen, especially via contemporary television series and film.

Ghostbusting in the Late Anthropocene: The 1980s, (Un)Conscious Climate Culture, and Our Holocene Afterlives

Published in a special issue of Academic Quarter entitled 'Perspectives on the Anthropocene', my intervention examines the latent ecocriticism of the horror-comedy Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) against its original source material in the context of climate catastrophe culture. As a sequel to the Ghostbusters films (1984, 1989), Afterlife shifts the setting: (geo)physically, from metropolitan New York City to a ‘dirt farm’ in Summerville, Oklahoma, and generationally, from the original middle-aged, male ghost-catchers to the teenaged grandchildren of the brightest among them. While the original antagonist – the (fictive) Sumerian god Gozer – returns once more to end the world, the Anthropo(s)cenic landscapes of Afterlife establish the film as a geopolitical intervention in the debate on the already-in-progress environmental apocalypse. In its (partial) rejection of the values of its 1980s-era source material, which is critically assessed herein, I argue that Afterlife speaks to humanity’s emergence as a geological agent defined by geopolitical cultures rooted in human exploitation, hydrocarbon extraction, agro-industrialisation, and nuclearism. Indeed, the decade of Reaganism haunts the film, serving as a ghostly reminder of how we arrived at our current Anthropocene predicament through white heteropatriarchal triumphalism, neoliberal excess, and ecocide.


Out of Time/In Place: Norwegianness, ‘Immigration’, and Spatial Belonging in Beforeigners

My essay on Beforeigners will be included in a future special issue on geographies of science fiction in cultural geographies, as is now available in pre-print form on the website. In the article, I examine television – as a form of representation, a space of affect, and an instrument of identity production – as a growing force in shaping perceptions of and views on international immigration. While geographers have examined the ways in which films, documentaries, and social media engage with the so-called ‘migrant crisis’ in Europe, there has been little work on fictional TV series as a force in world-building and place-making against the spectre of ‘unchecked migration’. Building on recent research on televisual interventions into the issues of migration, (b)orders, and securitisation, this article interrogates HBO Europe’s Norwegian-language sf series Beforeigners. With a focus on fantastical constructions of spatiality against temporality, the primary focus of this article is on the ways in which near-future science fiction engages with ontological insecurities around integration, xenophobia, and territorial belonging. This is accomplished by engaging the ‘temporal turn’ in cultural geography, which is increasingly focused on linking time, space, and migrant lives/bodies. Recognising TV series’ contributions to cultural, social, and political transformations that are of geographical significance, this essay seeks to expand and complicate scholarship on the suasive power of migrant representation on the small screen.


Latvia’s Labietis: Modern Craft Brewing Across the Pagan-Christian Threshold

My chapter on the Labietis brewery in Riga, Latvia was just published in Beer and Brewing in Medieval Culture and Contemporary Medievalismeds. Noelle Phillips, Rosemary O’Neill, and John A. Geck (Springer, 2022). My work critically examines Labietis as a geopolitically-inclined project that spans Latvia's pagan-Christian threshold through memory work that takes form in material culture (i.e. beer). Labietis is a fast-growing craft brewery steeped in a 1,200-year-old tradition that venerates Latvia’s pagan past, but also recognises the contributions of medieval monks to northern European brewing practices. Drawing on interviews with Labietis’ owner Reinis Pļaviņš, promotional material (beer descriptions, web site content, etc.), and my own visits to the tap room, this chapter explores the ways in which Latvia’s medieval history manifests in the medium of beer and brewing, including via imagery, iconography, nomenclature, ingredients, and everyday practices. In addition to a close analysis of Labietis beer and brewery, this chapter also provides a brief history of the eastern Baltic in the Middle Ages, as well as an analysis of the use of medievalism and the pre-Christian faith of Dievturība in the making of the modern nation-state of Latvia.

Other Recent Publications

'ICYMI: RT and Youth-Oriented International Broadcasting as (Geo)Political Culture Jamming', co-authored with Rhys Crilley and Precious Chatterje-Doody, The International Journal of Press/Politics, 2022, 27(3): 696–717

'Geopolitics on the "Other Side": Counterpart’s Imaginary of a World System after the Virus', Geopolitics, 27(5), pp.  1574-1598.

'Popular Geopolitics, Strategic Narratives, and Soft Power in Viking (2016) and Guardians (2017)', Cinema and Soft Power: Configuring the National and Transnational in Geo-Politics, eds. Stephanie Dennison and Rachel Dwyer, University of Edinburgh Press (2021), pp. 140-168.

'Extending the Katechon: Religio-Civilizational Vectors in Russia’s Intervention in the Levant', Striking from the Margins: State, Religion and Devolution of Authority in the Middle East, eds. Nadia Al-Bagdadi, Aziz Al-Azmeh, Harout Akdedian, and Harith Hasan, Al-Saqi Books (2021), pp. 282-310.

'Völkisch Vibes: Neofolk, Place, Politics, and Pan-European Nationalism', Nationalism and Popular Culture, ed. Tim Nieguth, Routledge (2020), pp. 36-58.

Books


Geopolitics, Northern Europe, and Nordic Noir: What Television Series Tell Us About World Politics. Routledge (2022, paperback; 2021 cloth).

"Saunders's range of secondary material is extensive, and the book's notes and references reflect an informed, sustained research process across multiple disciplines ... [The] accurate, detailed descriptions of series trajectories, character development, and use of landscape offer useful information to readers whether or not they are familiar with the series in question." ~ Scandinavian Studies

Popular Geopolitics and Nation Branding in the Post-Soviet Realm. Routledge (2020, paperback; 2017 cloth).

"An original and important contribution to the study of visual culture and its implications on nationalism, geopolitics, and the framing of broader geographical imaginations...[and] an insightful overview of the emergent histories of the spaces and people of the post-Soviet Union" ~ Social & Cultural Geography

Popular Geopolitics: Plotting an Evolving Interdiscipline. Routledge (2020 paperback; 2018 cloth).

"Robert A. Saunders and Vlad Strukov's edited collection works to bring popular culture and world politics scholarship together in a cohesive body of work through a careful tracing of both fields as logically converging into an interdisciplinary field capable of incorporating new and evolving intellectual currents." ~ The AAG Review of Books

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation, 2nd Ed. Scarecrow Press (2019); first ed. co-authored with Vlad Strukov (2010).

"The Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation fills a gap in the truest sense of the word." ~ Reference Reviews

Ethnopolitics in Cyberspace: The Internet, Minority Nationalism, and the Web of Identity. Lexington Books (2016 paperback; 2010 cloth).

"A welcome contribution [that] deserves the attention of a wide public, as it is a worthwhile contribution to this relatively new field." ~ Ethnic and Racial Studies

The Many Faces of Sacha Baron Cohen: Politics, Parody, and the Battle over Borat. Lexington Books (2009 paperback; 2008 cloth).

"A thoroughly detailed exploration of Cohen's explosive comedy. A smart read deserving of a lot of 'respek.'" ~ Michael Musto