Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ending One Fellowship and Starting Another

I have recently been appointed as a Research Fellow at the University of Vienna. They are working on an encyclopedia concerning animal issues, and one of the concerns is tracking progress in various countries. I am on the advisory board of the encyclopedia project. Austria is a great leader in terms of reforming the torturous treatment of animals that is presently the norm. I have written on this in past blog entries concerning Martin Balluch and his fellow Austrian activists who have pioneered great legislative changes. I will be funded to appear at a conference in 2013, a 30-year retrospective on Tom Regan's landmark book, The Case for Animal Rights (1983).

At the same time, I have chosen to take my departure from the Fellowship program of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. Ideally, I would have wished to carry on with the program, but this was made practically impossible due to the actions of others. That said, the Director said he was very sorry to see me leave. I do not make such a decision lightly, and would not unless there were serious issues involved. Rather than go into any details, let me just wish the OCAE all the best in its important and valuable work, such as its book series, Journal of Animal Ethics, international conferences, archiving project, and so on. I will always be in some degree of fellowship with those who oppose the degradation of sentient beings.

Oddly enough, I was offered the new fellowship out of the blue, out of respect for my work, on the very day I had already decided to leave the Oxford fellowship. To me, there is an all too vague historical irony in Austria being a great nation for animal ethics development. Austrians or many of them eagerly welcomed Hitler annexing their country, and they were a key part of the Holocaust. I am known to compare the Holocaust to nonhuman animal treatment in my writings and talks. Many of my relatives suffered murder and no doubt other atrocities in that grave historical phenomenon. However, the good people in Vienna have nothing to do with that, any more than fellow Canadian activists have anything to do with Japanese internment during the Second World War. I am so happy to be in professional collaboration with scholars such as Dr. Erwin Lengauer of the University of Vienna, and other animal ethics scholars who are on board with him.

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