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Human Development &
Capability Association

Agency, Well-Being and Justice

In Memoriam – Rachel Nussbaum Wichert

It is with great sadness that we inform HDCA members of the passing of Rachel Nussbaum Wichert. Rachel died on December 3, 2019 from a drug-resistant infection following successful transplant surgery.  We offer our heartfelt condolences to Rachel’s mother, Martha C. Nussbaum, her father Alan Nussbaum, and her husband Gerd Wichert.

Rachel had a Ph.D. from Cornell University and a J.D. from the University of Washington. She was an attorney with a passion for wild animals and a special interest in marine mammals. She worked as a Government Affairs Attorney in the Wildlife Law Program at Friends of Animals, an international non-profit animal advocacy organization. Rachel innovatively engaged the Capabilities Approach to explore the complexity of animal lives. In three papers that she co-authored with Martha Nussbaum, she advanced the argument for considering cetaceans (whales and dolphins) as “non-human persons”, with the right to legal status under certain circumstances, and also critically analyzed the whaling industry. One paper was published in the Journal of Human Development, one in a volume on animals, race and multiculturalism edited by Luis Cordeiro Rodrigues and Les Mitchell, and one in a recent volume on development ethics edited by Lori Keleher and Stacy Kosko.

Rachel attended and shared her work on animal well-being and rights at the HDCA annual conferences in Tokyo (2016) and Cape Town (2017) and her co-authored paper looking at the relationships between humans and animals in captivity was presented at the 2019 conference in London. Her work addressing scientific whaling was part of a symposium on “The Capabilities of Different Beings” that was published in the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities in 2017, helping to expand the boundaries of the journal’s scope.

Rachel was a valued member of the HDCA community. She will be remembered fondly and dearly missed.

A memorial fund has been established in Rachel’s name. Those who wish to donate can send a check made out to ‘Friends of Animals -- Nussbaum Memorial Fund’, to the following address: Michael Harris, Friends of Animals, 7500 E. Arapahoe Rd. Suite 385, Centennial, CO 80112, USA.

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