Dr. Robert A. Saunders Holds Unique Title Among FSC Faculty

Farmingdale State College (FSC) today announced that Robert A. Saunders, PhD, Professor, Department of History, Politics, and Geography, has been awarded the rank of Distinguished Professor — a prestigious honor bestowed upon professionals of the highest caliber — by the State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees for 2022-2023.

The Distinguished Professorship is conferred upon faculty who have achieved national or international prominence and a distinguished reputation within the individual’s chosen field through significant contributions to research and scholarship, or through artistic performance or achievement in the fine and performing arts.

“This honor is reserved for only the most exceptional educators in the SUNY system, and we are immensely proud of Dr. Saunders’ accomplishment,” said Dr. John Nader, President of Farmingdale State College. “His intellectual rigor and outstanding work serve as an example for the best of what Farmingdale State College has to offer its students.” 

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

“Dr. Saunders is the only faculty member at FSC who holds the title of SUNY Distinguished Professor,” said Dr. Laura Joseph, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at FSC. “His work and dedication continue to elevate the status and stature of a Farmingdale education and we congratulate him on this remarkable achievement.” 

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. 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 (Routledge, 2021). His current research agenda explores representations of the Anthropocene Epoch in popular culture, and how such visualizations influence political culture at the planetary level. 

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, Aarhus University, and Malmö University. 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.