The brief: faculty edition “I had no idea what I was letting myself into when I applied for a job here. I’m not a prayerful person, but after the interview, being driven back to the airport in the worst blizzard I could ever have imagined — I grew up in Britain where we have civilized weather, civilized rain — I prayed, yes, I prayed, that I would never see this place again. And it’s proved a perfect fit. For 31 years. So be prepared to be surprised here.” — Professor Robert Garland speaks about the adventurous start to his career at Colgate during his convocation speech to the Class of 2021.
Green fieldwork. Under the guidance of Professor Andy Pattison, students are performing a community-wide greenhouse gas inventory of the Town of Hamilton, according to the Observer-Dispatch (Utica, N.Y.). Through the fall class Community-based Study of Environmental Issues, students get real-world experience while helping the community address climate change locally. The inventory is part of the state-supported Climate Smart Communities program.
“If I have to perform any duties for my unit, the professors have been very supportive, even if the notices are last minute. Not only do they appreciate and support my service, they also support my education.”
Samto Wongso ’19
Joanna Bourke researches a paradox. She explains: “Pain is incommunicable. Yet, all we have is the language we grasp in attempts to express what we’re experiencing.” A history professor at Birkbeck College at the University of London, Bourke recently delivered the lecture “Dum-Dum Bullets: The ‘Savage’ and the ‘Civilised.’” The next evening, she met with a group of students and professors to discuss her recent books, Fear: A Cultural History and The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers. During the peace and conflict studies workshop, Bourke discussed her interests, her research methods, and how her findings may affect how we look at current events. Some years ago, as she was recovering from surgery, Bourke read Virginia Woolf’s On Being Ill and came across this line: “The merest schoolgirl, when she falls in love, has Shakespeare or Keats to speak her mind for her; but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry.” Bourke knew that fear and pain were central to her existence at that time. But, as Woolf describes, Bourke found that she didn’t have the words to explain her intense emotions. She decided to explore this disconnect. In her books, she tracks the history of fear and pain and the language we use to describe them. Asserting that pain is political and ideological, Bourke said, “There is no such thing as decontextualized pain. Pain is always enmeshed in social relations, individual characteristics and traits, and language.” Bourke also explains that pain is culturally specific. In North America, hospitals use The McGill Pain Questionnaire, a list of descriptors for pain that patients check off for their caregiver. “It’s proven almost impossible to translate to other cultures because there is no linguistic or cultural translation for the things some people say about their pain,” she said. “Turkish, for example, has different descriptors for describing if pain is ‘in water’ or not. In India, people describe pain with different kinds of heat.” Because pain and fear are societal and political, Bourke argues that they can be unifying. Pain can act as an “emotional contagion,” where the empathy of entire communities can manifest physically. Similarly, fear
—Technical Sergeant Leialoha Mara on professors Alex Nakhimovsky, Ulrich Meyer, and Ed Witherspoon, all of whom received Patriot Awards from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. The awards are in recognition of their support of Mara, who is an administrative assistant at Colgate and is taking university classes while serving in the Air National Guard at the Eastern Air Defense Sector in Rome, N.Y.
Shaking things up. Assistant Professor of Geology Aubreya Adams, along with nine other investigators, received a grant from the National Science Foundation to help deploy the largest collection of seismometers ever installed along the Alaskan Peninsula. The experiment will give us a better understanding of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Andrew Daddio
The language of pain
has united communities in the 1960s hippy movement, feminist movements, the Climate March, and Black Lives Matter. Bourke and professors discussed how using pain and fear, combined with hope, can create positive solidarities that can stand the test of time. Reflecting on this question, religion professor Georgia Frank said, “There are moments in history of excruciating fear and, yet, always some sense of hopefulness.” — Melanie Oliva ’18
“ There is no such thing as decontextualized pain. Pain is always enmeshed in social relations, individual characteristics and traits, and language.” — Joanna Bourke, history professor at Birkbeck College at the University of London
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Published on Nov 1, 2017