I am a Lecturer in Anthropology (Education and Research) here at Exeter and, when I do not focus on Anthrozoology, my areas of expertise are East Asia (Korea and Japan), Visual Anthropology and Philosophy. I trained under the likes of Isabelle Stengers, Patrice Loreau, Françoise Bonardel, Robert Deliège, Jean-Paul Colleyn, Marcus Banks, Jay Lewis, Roger Goodman and Inge Daniels.
I am originally from Belgium (Brussels). The question I always get is ‘Are you Flemish or Walloon?’- to which the answer is ‘neither!’ Belgium is divided into three administrative regions: Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels, and I am from the latter. My native language is French but, as a good Belgian, I also speak Flemish which I was taught between the age of 4 and 17. I moved to Paris to study for my BA in Philosophy at the Sorbonne, then decided I wanted to give Theatre a try and attended a Drama School while working on the side towards getting a ridiculously difficult title that only the French recognize: the ‘Agrégation de philosophie’. I then tried to make it as a starving artist in Paris and acted in a few theatre productions. I then went on with my academic career by attending the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), where I read for an MA in Ethnology. While doing this MA, I also worked full-time as a consultant and speechwriter for the current French Ministre de l'environnement, after which I moved to Oxford to get an MSc in Visual Anthropology and then a DPhil (PhD) in Anthropology. During my last two years as a PhD, I gave tutorials in Anthropology to Undergraduates at St Hugh's, Wadham and New Colleges (these are all Oxford Colleges). I graduated in July 2015 but had started Lecturing for the MA Anthrozoology programme at Exeter since May 2015.
I was brought up in a family that greatly valued human and nonhuman individuality. My grandfather had a farm in the Poitou region in France where I spent every summer of my childhood. I could not wait to go there each year, as it was such a joy to immerse myself for two months in a daily routine where I was asked to take care of horses, sheep, ducks, peacocks, chickens, cats and dogs. I was told to look after the animals as kindly as I could. I was often reminded that some of them would have to be killed and eaten by us in the end. That awareness made me want to know more about the various perspectives one is asked to adopt regarding nonhuman animals and whether moving from one perspective to the next could really be seen as a moral transgression. This has, no doubt, shaped my desire to look at the cat and dog meat trade in Korea for my PhD, as did my fascination for East Asia as a child and teenager.
In my free time, I appease my obsession for nineteenth-century European literature and by devouring Emile Zola's work and other naturalist descriptions. I also love the work of Victor Hugo, Charles Mathurin and Gustave Flaubert to name but a few. Today, I still live in Oxford but shall move to Exeter's countryside next year and (at last) live with more nonhuman animals, most likely to my husband and cat (SangSang)'s greatest despair.