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Robert  Saunders - Farmingdale State College. Farmingdale, NY, US

Robert Saunders Robert  Saunders

Professor, History, Politics, and Geography | Farmingdale State College

Farmingdale, NY, UNITED STATES

Dr. Saunders teaches from a global point of view; he is an expert on British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.

Biography

Robert A. Saunders is a professor in the Department of History, Politics & Geography at Farmingdale State College, where he teaches courses on comparative religions, global politics, and world history. In addition to his role as an instructor, Dr. Saunders is also Chair of the Science, Technology and Society (STS) program, the largest baccalaureate program in the School of Arts and Sciences at Farmingdale. He holds a PhD in Global Affairs from Rutgers University and degrees in History from Stony Brook University (MA) and the University of Florida (BA). His geographic areas of focus include Russia and Central Asia, Europe, and the Muslim world. His research explores the impact of popular culture and mass media on geopolitics, nationalism, and religious identity.

Dr. Saunders' scholarship has appeared in Progress in Human Geography, Nations and Nationalism, Slavic Review, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and Geopolitics, as well as other journals. He is the curator of the "Popular Culture and IR" blog channel at E-International Relations.

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." He is also the author of "Ethnopolitics in Cyberspace: The Internet, Minority Nationalism, and the Web of Identity" (2010), and the co-author, with Vlad Strukov, of the "Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation" (2010).

During the fall of 2014, Dr. Saunders held a Visiting Senior Research Fellowship at the University of Leeds, hosted by the School of Modern Languages and Cultures' Leeds Russian Centre.

Media

Publications:

Robert  Saunders Publication

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Areas of Expertise (12)

International Politics Russia and Central Asia Islam and the Middle East Nationalism Cyber-Politics Terrorism Political Violence Popular Culture Politics Comparative Religions Global Politics World History

Industry Expertise (3)

International Affairs Education/Learning Entertainment

Accomplishments (2)

Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology Outstanding Scholarly Publication (professional)

2015-01-01

Specific Research prize for my essay “Pagan Places” in Progress in Human Geography

Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology Outstanding Scholarly Publication (professional)

2012-01-01

Publication prize for the book Ethnopolitics in Cyberspace

Education (3)

Rutgers University: PhD, Global Affairs

Stony Brook University: MA, History

University of Florida: BA, History

Affiliations (6)

  • • Association of American Geographers
  • • Phi Beta Kappa Society
  • • Sigma Iota Rho The National Honor Society for International Studies
  • "Soft Power Cinema and the BRICS” research network
  • European International Studies Association
  • Association for Slavic East European and Eurasian Studies

Languages (1)

  • English

Media Appearances (8)

"Imagine There's No Country..."

Irish National Radio  radio

2015-03-15

"Imagine There's No Country..."

"At Patch Debate Forum - Laughter, Engagement"

Long Island Patch  online

2012-10-17

"At Patch Debate Forum - Laughter, Engagement"

"Students Pick Majors that Pay"

CNN's Your Bottom Line  tv

2012-04-14

"Students Pick Majors that Pay"

"At U.S. Colleges, Chinese-Financed Centers Prompt Worries about Academic Freedom"

Chronicle of Higher Education  print

2010-10-22

"At U.S. Colleges, Chinese-Financed Centers Prompt Worries about Academic Freedom"

"Kremlin 'Soft Power' Keeping Participatory Internet in Check"

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty  radio

2008-10-25

"Kremlin 'Soft Power' Keeping Participatory Internet in Check"

"Cultural Learnings of Kazakhastan"

Wilson Quarterly  print

2006-06-01

"Cultural Learnings of Kazakhastan"

"The Albanians: A Tale Filled with Lore but Little Motivation"

Philadelphia Inquirer  print

2007-05-09

"The Albanians: A Tale Filled with Lore but Little Motivation"

"A Recap by the World's Leading Boratologist"

Harper's Magazine  print

2006-10-04

"A Recap by the World's Leading Boratologist"

Event Appearances (9)

Borat: Satire, Politics, and National Image in the Post-Soviet East

N/A  Department of Cross-Cultural & Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen

2014-11-25

Popular Geopolitics: The Role of Film, TV, and Other Media in Contemporary International Relations

N/A  Department of Cross-Cultural & Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen

2015-04-08

Laughable Nations: Parodying the Post-Soviet Republics

N/A  Princess Dashkiva Russian Centre, University of Edinburgh

2015-04-08

Imagining the Post-Soviet Realm: Popular Culture, Post- Cold War Politics and Geographical Imaginaries

N/A  School of Modern Languages and Cultures' Leeds Russian Centre, University of Leeds

2015-04-08

• “Separatism in the New Millennium: Looking Back, Looking Forward"

Pulling Together or Pulling Apart: Identity and Nationhood - Spain, Europe, the West  Trinity College, Dublin

2015-06-26

• “Geopolitical Enemy #1? Anglophone Popular Culture, Vladimir Putin, and the Politics of Representation"

Russian Culture in the Era of Globalisation  University of Leeds, UK

2015-06-11

• “‘Brand’ New States: Post-Socialist Europe/Eurasia, Country Branding, and the Challenges of National Differentiation"

The Future(s) of Post-Socialism  Stony Brook University, New York

2015-04-17

• “The Popular Geopolitics Feedback Loop: Thinking Beyond the ‘Russia versus the West’ Paradigm"

Popular Geopolitics in Russia and Post-Soviet Eastern Europe  University College, London

2015-02-20

• “Neopaganism and Nationalism in Northern Europe since 1800: A Preliminary Analysis"

Northern Myths, Modern Identities: The Nationalization of Mythologies in Northern Europe  University of Groningen, Netherlands

2014-11-28

Style

Availability

  • Keynote
  • Moderator
  • Panelist
  • Workshop Leader
  • Author Appearance

Research Grants (2)

• International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) Partnerships in Collaborative Research Travel Grant

International Research & Exchanges Board 

2009-01-01

International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) Partnerships in Collaborative Research Travel Grant

• International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) Short-Term Travel Grant to Cluj-Napoca, Romania

International Research & Exchanges Board 

International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) Short-Term Travel Grant to Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Published Articles (11)

“Pagan Places: Towards a Religiogeography of Neopaganism" Progress in Human Geography

2013-01-01

“Pagan Places: Towards a Religiogeography of Neopaganism"

“Undead Spaces: Fear, Globalisation, and the Popular Geopolitics of Zombiism" Geopolitics

“Undead Spaces: Fear, Globalisation, and the Popular Geopolitics of Zombiism"

“The Ummah as Nation: A Reappraisal in the Wake of the ‘Cartoons Affair'" Nations and Nationalism

2008-01-01

“The Ummah as Nation: A Reappraisal in the Wake of the ‘Cartoons Affair'"

“Buying into Brand Borat: Kazakhstan’s Cautious Embrace of Its Unwanted ‘Son'" Slavic Review

2008-01-01

“Buying into Brand Borat: Kazakhstan’s Cautious Embrace of Its Unwanted ‘Son'"

“Unintended Architectures: Terrorism’s Role in Shaping Post-War France, the European Union, and the Muslim Presence in the West" Journal of Conflict Studies

2007-01-01

“Unintended Architectures: Terrorism’s Role in Shaping Post-War France, the European Union, and the Muslim Presence in the West"

“In Defense of Kazakshilik: Kazakhstan’s War on Sacha Baron Cohen" Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power

2007-01-01

“In Defense of Kazakshilik: Kazakhstan’s War on Sacha Baron Cohen"

“Talking Up China: An Analysis of China’s Cultural Power and the Global Popularization of the Chinese Language" East Asia: An International Quarterly

2006-01-01

“Talking Up China: An Analysis of China’s Cultural Power and the Global Popularization of the Chinese Language"

“Digital Dragons and Cybernetic Bears: Comparing the Overseas Chinese and Near Abroad Russian Web Communities" Nationalism & Ethnic Politics

2006-01-01

“Digital Dragons and Cybernetic Bears: Comparing the Overseas Chinese and Near Abroad Russian Web Communities"

“Denationalized Digerati in the Virtual Near Abroad: The Paradoxical Impact of the Internet on National Identity among Minority Russians" Global Media and Communication

2006-01-01

“Denationalized Digerati in the Virtual Near Abroad: The Paradoxical Impact of the Internet on National Identity among Minority Russians"

“Virtual Irredentism? Redemption and Reification of the Albanian Nation in Cyberspace" Albanian Journal of Politics

2005-01-01

“Virtual Irredentism? Redemption and Reification of the Albanian Nation in Cyberspace"

The Silence of the Lambs: Critical Essays on a Cannibal, Clarice and a Nice Chianti Rowman & Littlefield

2016-11-08

Contributed a chapter.

One of only three films to-date to win Academy Awards in all five major categories, The Silence of the Lambs marked a sea change in horror films when it debuted, shifting the genre from teen slasher fare of the 1970s to the sophisticated psychological horror that characterizes acclaimed films today. Praised by some as the first true feminist thriller, it has drawn criticism from others for perpetuating narratives of crimes against women and demonizing its queer character. Regardless of the controversy, this film is a perennial favorite and even made it into AFI’s list of top 100 movies of all time.

In The Silence of the Lambs: Critical Essays on a Cannibal, Clarice, and a Nice Chianti, editor Cynthia J. Miller compiles fifteen essays, contributed by authors from a wide range of disciplines, which are divided into three sections, each approaching the film from a different vantage point: “Situating the Silence” looks at the film in its cultural and historical context—as an adaptation, popular culture icon, and as an element in genre and character history; “Dissecting Evil” takes a closer look at portrayals of evil in the film, in both Hannibal Lecter and Buffalo Bill; and “Minds, Hearts, and Body Parts” offers critical explorations of gender, patriarchy, class, Orientalism, and humor as lenses for continued contemporary analysis of this classic film.

Written accessibly, this collection of essays also introduces readers to forensics, semantics, and the psychology of serial killers. The Silence of the Lambs: Critical Essays on a Cannibal, Clarice, and a Nice Chianti will be of interest to scholars and fans of horror, thriller, and crime drama films, as well as those interested in film history and the legacy of “Hannibal the Cannibal” in popular culture.

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Courses (15)

HIS 233 - Comparative Religions and Cultures

A survey of religions of the East and the region of the Mediterranean, with discussion of their impact on the lives of individuals, and on cultures and other societies through the interrelationship of value systems.

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HIS 310 - Technology and Society Russia-1917-Present

This course examines the connections between industrialization, culture, society, and politics in the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia. Topics of discussion include the development of Russian communism, collectivization, the Cold War, ethnicity and religion, and post-Soviet politics and culture.

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HIS 216 - History of Central Asia: From Genghis to Borat

A study of the history, peoples, cultures, religions, customs, and contemporary politics of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan), as well as the relationship between the region and its neighbors China, Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

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GEO 231 - Europe and Its Peoples

This course is an exploration of the rich diversity of cultures and societies of contemporary Europe, as well as an introduction to the continent's geography and how its unique physical attributes shaped world history. Critical readings of recent ethnography will be used to examine themes such as ethnicity and migration, rural life and traditionalism, and family and kinship. Students will also be familiarized with the growth of cities, demographic changes, the development of a leisure culture, and attitudes towards work in Europe. Furthermore, we will examine the interaction between Europeans and their physical environment, interrogate the role of language on national identity among European peoples, and trace the evolution of religion from paganism to "Post-Christianity." We will also study the development of political culture on the continent and historical and contemporary projects to create a united Europe from the Pax Romana to the European Union.

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GEO 211 - The World and Its Peoples

This course is an exploration of the rich diversity of cultures and societies of the contemporary world, as well as an introduction to world geography and how it has shaped major developments in global history. Critical readings of recent ethnography will be used to examine themes such as ethnicity and migration, rural life and traditionalism, and family and kinship. Students will also be familiarized with the growth of cities, demographic changes, the development of a leisure culture, and attitudes towards work as we survey the major world regions (Southern Asia, the Pacific Rim, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, the Americas, Europe, and Oceania). Furthermore, we will examine the interaction between humans and their physical environment, interrogate the role of language on national identity among peoples, and trace the evolution of world religions.

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POL 371 - Geopolitics

This course examines the strategic, political, and cultural developments and concepts associated with geopolitical from late 19th century through the current era. Combining knowledge of international relations and world geography, students will examine how states and nations interact in an increasingly globalized world. Special topics will include the geopolitics of space, energy, religion, and the environment. Popular media's impact on geopolitics understanding will also be explored.

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HIS 215 - The World of Islam

An examination of the birth and development of Islam from its beginning to the present. Special emphasis will be placed on the inter-connection of Islam with Judaism and Christianity and the common basis of monotheism. Topics to be discussed include the Ottoman and Mogul Empires, trade and commerce, urbanization, intellectual movements and class formation in the Islamic world.

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POL 267 - Politics of the Muslim World

This course provides an introduction to the global politics Islam, including regional issues in the Arab world, Central Asia, and South Asia, as well as the impact of Islamic politics on parts of the globe where Muslims represent a significant minority (Europe, Russia, China, and sub-Saharan Africa).

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HIS 341 - Terrorism and the Modern World

This course traces the global impact of terror and terrorism since the first use of the term in 1795. Much of the course focuses on the use of political violence by non-state actors and revolutionary organizations operating both at a domestic and international level. We will compare and contrast the various "waves" of terror which have gripped the globe since the late 1800s and analyze the similarities and differences between groups such as the IRA, the Ku Klux Klan, and al Qaeda. We will also explore state-based terror, specifically the use of fear, surveillance, and the secret police by various regimes in the 19th and 20th centuries. The role of media as an enabler of terrorism and terrorists will also be an important theme throughout the semester.

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POL 262 - Global Politics

An introduction to global politics which explores regional issues in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the America etc., as well as genuinely transnational concerns such as pandemics, international terrorism, environmental degradation, etc.

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POL 391 - Mass Media and Politics

This course provides a comprehensive survey of mass media's role in politics and the impact of the political environment on the press. It investigates the major media platforms (print, radio, television and the Internet) and how each shapes political culture. While the scope of the course is global, much attention is paid to the American media landscape. Other regions to be covered include the former Soviet Union, the Arab World, East Asia, and Europe. Special topics to be explored include: news management, transnational media empires, the CNN effect, infotainment, "fake news," the mass mediation of terrorism, and the connection between media and democracy.

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POL 392 - Religion and Politics

This course examines the complicated and often fractious relationship between religion and politics. Following a brief introduction to the world's major religions, we will explore how politics and faith interact around the globe. Following a geographic approach, we will focus first on the United States before investigating the politics of religion in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific region. The themes of theocracy, sectarian conflict, fundamentalism, Islamism, secularism, and so-called "religious terrorism" will be investigated.

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POL 393 - Politics and Popular Culture

This course examines the influence of popular culture on political identity within the United States and across the globe. The relationship between the U.S. entertainment industry and the political system will be explored, while the second half of the course will focus on the impact of global popular culture on international relations. Various forms of pop culture will be addressed, including but not limited to: film, television, music, video games, novels, comics, political cartoons, jokes, blogging, fads, and fashion.

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POL 370 - International Relations

This course examines how the international political system was established and how it has changed since the Peace of Westphalia. Focusing on the role of states, complemented by a thorough analysis of non-state actors, students will investigate how the global system works and how the process of globalization is remaking the political and economic world. The art and purpose of diplomacy will also be explored.

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STS 400W - Senior Seminar in Science, Technology and Society (Writing Intensive)

The Senior Seminar in Science, Technology and Society is a capstone course for those students intending to graduate from the Science, Technology and Society (STS) program. Students will participate in a reading and writing-intensive seminar organized around a common theme in the sciences and technologies, exploring how social, political, and cultural values affect the production and dissemination of knowledge and the development and use of new technologies. Students in the seminar will be required to complete a substantial research project integrating what they have learned during their course of study and their specific areas of interest. Students should consult the department before registering for any seminar course. This is a writing-intensive course.

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