When Somdeep Sen ’07 walked into the first class for his First-Year Program at St. Lawrence University in 2003, he never envisioned that his professor would become a lifelong mentor with whom he would co-author a book more than 18 years later.
Professor of Global Studies John Collins collaborated with Sen to publish a book titled “Globalizing Collateral Language: From 9/11 to Endless War” which examines the political lexicon surrounding the attacks on September 11, 2001, and how language creates opposition and violence in global affairs. The work, published by the University of Georgia Press, also offered an opportunity for Collins and Sen to reunite on a shared interest project.
“Given our common research interests, as well as our experience learning together when Somdeep was a student at St. Lawrence, we had wanted to collaborate on a project for a while,” said Collins. “I had been thinking for a number of years about doing a follow-up to the original 2002 Collateral Language volume. So I pitched to Somdeep the idea of putting together a new book to be published in September 2021, 20 years after the 9/11 attacks.”
As a first-year student at St. Lawrence in 2003, Sen was familiar with the original volume of work that Collins co-edited, and its influence on how others view the political world.
“John was my first academic supervisor at SLU. In a way, Collateral Language is somehow central to my political and scholarly orientation,” said Sen. “As a graduate student, I would regularly use the 2002 volume in my class as a way of unpacking and unsettling my students’ preconceptions about the world. When John mentioned the idea of a second volume I jumped at the opportunity.”
The new volume also brings together the collective expertise of several current and former St. Lawrence faculty, alumni, and colleagues through a collection of their essays.
“It has been wonderful to bring some new SLU colleagues, as well as another alumnus, into the Collateral Language project,” said Collins. “Since many of the authors are SLU faculty and alumni, and the rest are people I know well, this opens up the possibility of having the authors themselves participate in the class when we are reading their work. In my experience, being able to meet the author face-to-face (or over Zoom!) can be a transformative moment for students.”
While Sen graduated from St. Lawrence in 2007, the opportunities for two Laurentians to learn from one another have continued throughout the years.
“It has been an extremely rewarding process,” said Collins. “I have been following Somdeep’s work closely for many years and have great respect for him as a young scholar, but being able to work closely with him on the book project gave me an even greater appreciation for the sharpness of his analysis and for his commitment to public intellectual work.”
All in all, this project reminded me why I still feel so connected to this campus.”
-Somdeep Sen '07
“John is the reason why I am an academic, and working with someone who I consider to be a mentor was an absolute pleasure,” said Sen, who is an associate professor of international development studies at Roskilde University, Denmark. “This project gave me the opportunity to reconnect with SLU. I was able to be on campus and in Canton after 12 years, reconnect with alumni, and forge new relationships with SLU faculty members. All in all, this project reminded me why I still feel so connected to this campus.”
Collins is an original member of the global studies department at St. Lawrence. His course work focuses on themes of globalization, nationalism, colonialism, violence, memory, political activism, and media criticism. Among the courses he regularly teaches at St. Lawrence are Theories of Global Cultural Studies, Global Palestine, and Blogging the Globe: News Analysis and Investigative Journalism.
Sen is an associate professor of international development studies at Roskilde University, Denmark. His research focuses include spatial politics, race and racism in international relations, liberation movements, settler colonialism, postcolonial studies and migration. He is the author of “Decolonizing Palestine: Hamas between the Anticolonial and the Postcolonial.”
“Globalizing Collateral Language: From 9/11 to Endless War,” is a follow-up to the 2002 volume, “Collateral Language: A User’s Guide to America’s New War,” edited by Collins and Ross Glover. The new book’s contributing authors include former St. Lawrence professor Stephen Barnard, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Damon Berry, Associate Professor of Government Chris Buck, Associate Professor of Global Studies Jayantha Jayman, Associate Dean of International & Intercultural Studies and Professor of Hispanic Studies Marina Llorente, Professor of English Natalia Singer, Brush Art Gallery Director Cathy Tedford, George Ciccariello-Maher ’01, and colleagues from MIT, the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, York University, San Diego State University, and the University of Edinburgh.