This book examines how pacemakers and defibrillators participate in transforming life and death in high-tech societies. In both popular and medical accounts, these internal devices are often portrayed as almost magical technologies. Once implanted in bodies, they do not require any ‘user’ agency. In this unique and timely book, Nelly Oudshoorn argues that any discourse or policy assuming a passive role for people living with these implants silences the fact that keeping cyborg bodies alive involves their active engagement. Pacemakers and defibrillators not only act as potentially life-saving technologies, but simultaneously transform the fragility of bodies by introducing new vulnerabilities. Oudshoorn offers a fascinating examination of what it takes to become a resilient cyborg, and in the process develops a valuable new sociology of creating ‘resilient’ cyborgs.
About the Author
Nelly Oudshoorn is Professor Emerita of Technology Dynamics and Healthcare at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. She is the author of several award winning books on the development and use of new technologies in healthcare.
Table of Contents
Part I Introduction: Theorizing the Resilience of Hybrid Bodies.- 1. Rematerializing the Cyborg: Understanding the Agency of People Living with Technologies inside Their Bodies.- 2. On Vulnerable Bodies, Transformative Technologies, and Resilient Cyborgs.- Part II Technogeographies of Resilience.- 3. Creating Material-Resilient Cyborgs: Sensing and Tuning Agencies of Pacemakers and Defibrillators.- 4. Passive Victims of Faulty Machines? Anticipating and Taming ICD Shocks.- 5. Wired-Heart Cyborgs and the Materiality of Everyday Life.- Part III Resilience and Difference.- 6. ‘How Did You Get that Scar?’: Gender and the Appropriation of Visibly Marked Bodies.- 7. How Age Matters: The Emotional Work of Younger and Older People Living with Defibrillators.- Part IV How Hybrid Bodies Fall Apart.- 8. “Should we turn off the pacemaker?”: Trajectories of Dying and Geographies of Rights and Responsibilities.- 9. The Second Life of Pacemakers: Creating Resilient Implants and Infrastructures for Pacemaker Reuse in the Global South.- 10. Conclusions: Towards a Sociology of Resilient Cyborgs.- Index.
What People are Saying About This
‘This fine book makes me more resilient, as we all come to live with the “body companion technologies” that Oudshoorn explores with her subtle and generous critical spirit rooted in thick ethnography. She tells us with rich detail and analytical acumen how specific kinds of implanted body companions reshape our hearts and syncopate our rhythms of living and dying. Oudshoorn’s care for the people she studies infuses the tissues of this book as she helps readers understand both new vulnerabilities and heartening resilience.’ (Donna Haraway, Distinguished Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness Department, University of California at Santa Cruz)
‘“The body electric” is the subject of Oudshoorn’s comprehensive sociology of the implantable cardiac defibrillator, that “body companion technology” placed in thousands of people annually. From the re-making of self-awareness to the materiality and agency of the wired heart itself, the book shows what it takes to live and die as a hybrid. An important addition to the social studies of biomedicine.’ (Sharon R. Kaufman, Professor Emerita, Medical Anthropology, University of California, San Francisco)