In 2001, I joined the US Army as a 19D Cavalry Scout. The next 4 years would turn my life upside down, as I would move to Germany, be deployed for a peacekeeping mission to Kosovo ('02-'03), and then spend a year in Iraq ('04-'05). This transformative experience drove me to try and understand what I had just gone through, so I enrolled in Political Science and Sociology at Colorado State University. College began to give me the tools to understand my experience, and the language to articulate what I had been feeling. The more I learned, the more I became passionate about trying to create a better world by non-militaristic means. I became involved in a number of activist movements, from anti-war movements to social justice movements. After completing my undergraduate degree, I began a Masters in Ethnic Studies at Colorado State. My MA thesis focused upon the newly emerging Tea Party, specifically their rhetoric around race, class, gender and sexuality. I then moved to Hawai'i to work on a PhD in Political Science. Here I returned to my passion in looking at topics around war, militarism, and social movements. I then moved back to Colorado State to teach in Political Science and Ethnic Studies. I then went to Budapest, Hungary for a postdoc at Central European University (CEU) in the International Relations Department. I am currently a visiting professor with the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program in New York City, specifically working with students from CEU.
My most recent project, titled “Fight to Live, Live to Fight: Veteran Activism After War,” is an ethnographic study of war veterans who have come home to become social justice activists. As soldiers, these veterans were trained and formed in specific ways, for specific purposes, primarily to perpetuate violence. While every individual is affected by this training differently, there are similar themes and ideals that come to light, which tell us much about the military, western liberal democracy, the affects of war, and subjectivity.
This project highlights the links between civil society and militarism, as well as the connection between the Social Contract and what I am calling the Soldiers’ Contract. Similar to how Charles Mills describes the Racial Contract, and Carole Pateman describes the Sexual Contract, soldiers have a different relationship to the Social Contract, which is related to the other contracts and these intersections must be understood. Examinations of war are extensive however the part of the soldier is rarely theorized, and the relationship to society and the political have constantly shifted dependent upon the time and space being examined; for example, veteran activism today looks very different than veteran activism during the civil rights era.
This subject formation has a somatic impact that has societal implications. Therefore, veterans are able to articulate these concepts and ideals differently than civilians because their lived experiences exemplify the ramifications of war and governmental policy. Thus putting my work at the nexus of political theory, American politics, international relations, and examinations of security and governance. This project is scheduled to be released as a book manuscript with SUNY publishing on July 1, 2019.
My work looks to bridge theory and practice as it examines the activism of military veterans as they seek to combat the violence they see everyday throughout society. More specifically, I engage with veterans who have become activists, why they have done so, and the tactics of their activism. Furthermore, veterans are able to articulate concepts and ideals differently than civilians because their lived experiences exemplify the ramifications of war and American policy. Often, veterans feel the effects of US policy before society does, thus acting as the miner’s canary. Furthermore, and on a broader level, my work looks at different forms of militarism, specifically in line with the Critical Military Studies field.
I currently have a few projects on the horizon. I hope to continue to advance my work on the Soldiers’ Contract. First, is a project that looks at how race and ethnicity interact with veterans’ movements in Trump’s America. Whereas my first project looked at veterans who became a part of social justice movements, this project will examine the clashes between veterans fighting for racial justice and veterans who have become a part of White supremacist groups. Another project I hope to start is an examination of the intersection of sports and militarism.
One other project I am also constantly working on is writing a methodology/pedagogical book titled, "Living War, Writing War, Teaching War." It will examine different tactics of writing and teaching war from a veteran perspective.
There are a number of other projects that I am exploring many looking at intersections between popular culture and militarism, including but not limited to: sports, science fiction, and music.
Schrader, B. The Soldier’s Contract
Schrader, B. Cyborgian Self-Awareness: Trauma and Memory in Blade Runner and Westworld (Forthcoming: Theory & Event)
Schrader, B. Living War, Writing War, Teaching War (Book Project)
Schrader, B. "Get Some!" 1st and 3rd person entanglements of war
Schrader, B. Take a Knee? Veterans and the Kaepernick Debate
Schrader, B. No Awards for Endless Wars: An autoethnographic account of protesting George W. Bush
Schrader, B. Hillbilly IR: Jacob George and the Soldier’s Heart
My primary teaching objective is that students leave my class understanding how power relations organize everything from interpersonal relations to why states go to war. A major component to my teaching style is tied to attitude, as I push the students to connect their daily lived realities to larger global concepts. One of my most important attributes is compassion, and I work hard to ensure that every student has what they need to succeed in my course. Teaching at the University of Hawaii, Colorado State University, and now at Central European University, has allowed me to work with very diverse populations. This has given me valuable insight into different techniques for enhancing the experience for all students, but especially under-represented students. Too often students are allowed to slip through the cracks of academia, and I feel that it is up to us as educators to ensure that all students strive for excellence.
-This class was incredibly challenging for me personally, and I was forced out of my comfort zone each day. I appreciate your willingness to work with me and encouraging me to speak up in class, even though I had nothing valuable to contribute. I’m grateful for this challenging experience as I know it will help me in the future. Thanks for facilitating a great class.
-Ben is a fantastic teacher who does a great job of encouraging students to think for themselves and also to challenge those thoughts. The class opened my eyes to many facets of America’s interactions abroad and domestically and made me change my perspectives on the way we wage war.
-This was a course like no other here at CSU. I learned more in this class and took more away from this class than I have from a lot of other courses. Ben was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about what he was teaching! This is a class I would recommend to anyone willing to learn more about this subject.
-I really enjoyed this class. I was hesitant to begin with because it was different than what I thought it would be but growing up in a conservative household, and still being pretty conservative, it was nice to see a different perspective and engage in discussions that were out of my comfort zone. Overall, it was a really great class and I enjoyed Dr. Schrader.
-Learning theoretical approaches coupled with application strategies through multimedia platforms was extremely effective in understanding the material.
-This is my first philosophy course so it was helpful to have Ben’s further analysis of the reading material. I truly enjoyed his teaching style and feel like I learned a lot. I really enjoyed learning how to write more scholarly papers as well. It was hard to do but I know that I needed t learn the correct way to cite and the proper format of writing papers.
-He was very accepting to different ideas and respected them but required us to support with facts. Along with that, he really had a passion for the subject and explained each idea thoroughly. His feedback on our papers was very helpful and I think in these past 6 weeks I have become a stronger writer.
-Thank you for making me a better writer and expanding my knowledge of political theory.