Dr. Nick Buchanan’s interests are animated by two broadly interrelated concerns: how do science and technology underpin ideologies of control and mastery, both of people and of the natural world; and how do contests over what knowledge is, and who counts as a legitimate knower, permeate the dynamics of political conflicts.

He explores these ideas in a variety of contexts, for example in environmental conflicts between indigenous peoples and the state, the interplay of science and law, and contestations over patients’ and doctors’ understanding of health, illness, and ability.

Dr. Buchanan is also critically engaged with ongoing political debates about legalizing forensic DNA phenotyping in Germany, with a focus on the relationship among the technology, state force, and “law-and-order” rhetoric. Of special interest is the way that the technology is presented not only as a tool for specific tasks in police investigations, but also as a generalized technological fix for a growing uncertainty and amorphous angst in society. You can find out more about this initiative, and its other members, here.

Dr. Buchanan’s teaching includes courses on science and technology studies, environmental studies, the history of technology, and ethics and law in science and technology. He is also the coordinator for the Wissenschaft – Technologie – Gesellschaft / Science – Technology – Society Teaching Program, which sponsors student-initiated seminars, as well as courses offered by instructors and researchers at the University of Freiburg, that explore the multifaceted interactions of science, technology, and society.


Room 01 027/01 026
Tel. +49 (0)761 203-96873
Email: nicholas.buchanan@ucf.uni-freiburg.de

Office hours

By individual appointment (per e-mail)

Degrees and Other Appointments

  • Member (elect), Board of Studies, Liberal Arts and Sciences Degree Program, University of Freiburg (2024–2026).
  • Program Coordinator, Wissenschaft – Technologie – Gesellschaft / Science – Technology – Society Teaching Program, University College Freiburg, University of Freiburg (2021–current).
  • Affiliated Faculty, Program in the History of Science and Technology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (2016–2020).
  • Assistant Professor (visiting), Program in the History of Science and Technology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (2013–2016).
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA (2010). PhD in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society.
  • University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA (2002). BA in Geography with Highest Honors and Highest Distinction, Phi Beta Kappa.