Introducing: Darian Meacham

I joined FASoS in November 2016 as Assistant Professor in Practical Philosophy. I’m interested in Politics, Technology, Phenomenology, and RRI (Responsible Research And Innovation), though not always in that order. Before coming to Maastricht I was senior lecturer in Philosophy at UWE, Bristol in the UK. When I’m not doing philosophy, I enjoy cooking (and eating), and, having come to the Netherlands, I’m hoping to rekindle a love of cycling.

My research focuses on how technological developments impact and transform our experience and understanding of central political concepts like sovereignty, solidarity, citizenship, community. The question that drives this research is: how is technological innovation transforming the contemporary vocabulary of political thought? The scope of this investigation is global, but there is a specific focus on the European Union, in both its internal and external politics, as a scene for techno-political co-production and change. My approach is grounded in a phenomenological method that explores, in the first instance, how meaning is formed in the multi-faceted relations between individuals, groups, institutions and technologies.

The current testing grounds for my ideas are ongoing collaborations with BrisSynBio (a UK research council funded Synthetic Biology Research Centre), where I am the director of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. RRI is a programme for mediating techno-political change, and has been adopted in various forms across Europe. It is, however, beset with challenges and obstacles, both practical and theoretical. For example, how can an innovation governance programme address fundamental questions of value and what is the link between the notion of responsibility in RRI and democratic legitimization? Is the demos always responsible? These challenges are often rooted in presupposed notions about fundamental political concepts that underpin RRI. My research into how techno-political change is played out at the nexus between these concrete contexts of innovation in biotechnology and robotics, and the fundamental concepts of political theory that structure our political institutions and societies.

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