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 my Masters in Ethnic Studies at Colorado State. My MA thesis focused upon the newly emerging Tea Party, its rhetoric, and the ways it impacted identity politics. I then moved to Hawai'i to work on my 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. But I have most recently accepted a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Narrative Politics at Central European University and will be living in Budapest in Fall 2017.
My most recent project, titled “Fight to Live, Live to Fight: Mapping Veteran Narratives of Violence in Peace,” 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 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, international relations, and examinations of security and governance. I am currently working on turning this into a book manuscript.
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.
I currently have a few projects on the horizon. I hope to continue my work on the intersections of war, militarism, and veterans in a new project called the “Soldiers Contract.” This project jumps off of the conception put forth by Carole Pateman’s The Sexual Contract, and Charles Mills’ The Racial Contract. With the fundamental aspect of any social contract being the provision of security by the sovereign, very little is actually examined by who and how that security is provided. While the theorization of war is extensive, 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. This project, coupled with my current research on veterans, will create an interesting theoretical understanding of western liberal governance, subject formation, and the role of social movements, especially within the varied levels of neoliberal systems in a Post 9/11 world.
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.
Schrader, B. The Soldier's Contract
Schrader, B. Remaking Sense: Art and Healing the Traumas of War.
Timpson, W., Schrader, B., Valdez, N., and Giffey, D. eds. From Battleground To Common Ground: Stories of Conflict, Reconciliation and Civic Renewal (Book Project co-editor)
Schrader, B. (chapter). "Leaving Iraq" in From Battleground To Common Ground: Stories of Conflict, Reconciliation and Civic Renewal
Schrader, B. Living War, Writing War, Teaching War (Book Project)
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, and in the Ethnic Studies department of Colorado State, has allowed me to work with very diverse populations. This has given me valuable insight into different techniques for enhancing the experience for 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.