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

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Cross-Cultural & Regional Studies > PhD research > PhD Courses and Seminars at ToRS > Popular Geopolitics: T...

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

20 November, 13:15-17:00:

PhD master class with professor Robert A. Saunders, Farmingdale State College, Department of History and Political Science 

This master class will address the relatively new field of popular geopolitics, highlighting the groundbreaking work of key scholars within the discipline (Ó Tuathail, Dodds, Dittmer, Debrix, Sharp, et al.).

After discussing the marriage of critical geopolitics with media studies, our programme will examine how geographies are constructed and maintained in a mass-mediated world where television programs, video games, comic books, motion pictures, and web sites have emerged as important sources of everyday geopolitical “knowledge.”

In an effort to provide a comparative component, we will discuss the complex interplay between cultural stereotypes, geopolitical imaginaries, and international relations vis-à-vis the mediation of Russia/Eastern Europe, the Arab-Muslim world, East Asia, and Latin America.

We will also interrogate the unique role played by the Soviet Union’s geopolitical space during the Cold War, and how this cultural baggage influences current reception of post-Soviet Eurasia and the Russian Federation in the popular (Western) mind.

 

21 November 2014, 15:15-17:00:

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

Public lecture by professor Robert A. Saunders, Farmingdale State College, Department of History and Political Science

Abstract

This lecture stems from my long-running investigation of the British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s antics as Borat, the (fictitious) bumbling, sex-crazed reporter from Kazakhstan.

After exploring Western mass media’s tendency to treat the post-Soviet republics as an undifferentiated and ridiculous morass, which can be used as handy geopolitical setting for corruption, poverty, backwardness, intolerance, and—most importantly—self-righteous laughter, I will delve into the history of Borat, from the character’s humble beginnings as an unnamed Moldovan to his worldwide fame and well-documented feud with the government of Kazakhstan.

I will discuss the major findings of my book The Many Faces of Sacha Baron Cohen: Politics, Parody, and the Battle over Borat and the longer-term impact of the “Boratistan” parody on the post-Soviet realm.