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College Professor Researches Terrorism in Tel Aviv

March 14, 2013

Dr. Robert Saunders
Dr. Robert Saunders, associate professor of history at Farmingdale State College, spent time this summer with convicted terrorists, border guards, and military personnel during a fellowship in Israel, sponsored by the U.S.-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD).  For 10 days, Dr. Saunders and thirty-five other American academics gathered together to discuss terrorism and possible ways to deter it.

Dr. Saunders attended intensive seminars at Tel Aviv University, as well as a dozen visits to sites around Israel and the Palestinian Territories where he saw border control installations, anti-terrorism training facilities, and live-fire military exercises.

Through an Academic Fellow by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), a non-partisan policy institute headquartered in Washington, D.C., Dr. Saunders was able to participate in the open forum.  He also serves as acting chair of the Science, Technology &Society (formerly known as Technology Studies) program and has been instrumental in creating a new Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies minor.

Conducted at Tel Aviv University, the program also included presentations by diplomats from Israel, Jordan, India, and the United States as well as academics, military, and intelligence officials.

Dr. Saunders' areas of expertise include international relations, post-Soviet politics, Central Asian culture, Islamism, nationalism, and political violence. He teaches a wide variety of courses in history, political science, religion, and geography. His research explores the impact of mass media on national identity, geopolitics, and diplomacy. He previously taught at Rutgers University, Wagner College, and Monmouth University. He is an associate editor of the Globality Studies Journal.

Dr. Saunders' articles have appeared in Nations and Nationalism, Slavic Review, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Global Media and Communication, Russia in Global Affairs, and Geopolitics, as well as other journals.

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 titled 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) for which he received the Outstanding Scholarly Publiction Prize from Farmingdale in 2012. He is co-author of the Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation (2010). Dr. Saunders is currently working on a chapter on mass media and terrorism for The Routledge History of Terrorism, edited by Randall D. Law.

A Farmingdale resident, Saunders received his PhD from the Division of Global Affairs at Rutgers University and holds degrees in History from Stony Brook University and the University of Florida.