Technoscientific Constitutionalism

Are we facing a constitutional crisis? As stem cell research redefines the meaning of life, big data systems subvert expectations of privacy, and nudge economics takes on the role of governments and regulation, science and technology (S&T) play an increasingly profound role in ordering our world. In doing so, they are not only ‘constitutive’ of life in contemporary societies, but indeed ‘constitutional’ – challenging both the existing social orders enshrined in our legal and political institutions and what comes to be regarded as desirable orders in the first place. This poses a number of critical questions at the intersection of science & technology studies (STS), law, and public policy: how to think about the constitutional foundations of society in view of recent trends in S&T? What are the implications of these arrangements for understanding rights, responsibilities, subjectivity, government, and regulation? Are conventional approaches to law and democratic governance sufficient to address the challenges of constitutions in a technoscientific world?

This German-American research exchange centered around a joint symposium in Washington DC will explore how science and technology (re-constitute) society through the lens of “technoscientific constitutionalism.“ We build on recent work across a number of domains, including bio-constitutionalism, infrastructure politics, and critical legal studies. As S&T frequently cut to the heart of social, political and legal categories, we propose to study these transformations and their consequences in three paradigmatic domains: biosciences, information technology and economics. Using thus a two-fold comparative approach (across domains and with participants from two countries), the conference will focus allow us to identify salient differences and cultural idiosyncrasies in technoscientific constitutions. We also want to find out how we must change our theories and methods in order to analyze the technoscientific constitutions of contemporary society.

Prof. Dr. S. Pfotenhauer (TUM), Prof. Dr. Ben Hurlbut (ASU), Prof. Christopher Kelty (UCLA), Prof. Dr. Sabine Maasen (TUM), Prof. Shobita Parthasarathy (University of Michigan), PD Dr. Jan-Hendrik Passoth (TUM), Prof. Malte Ziewitz (Cornell University)

10/2017 - 07/2029