© 2020

Resilient Cyborgs

Living and Dying with Pacemakers and Defibrillators


Part of the Health, Technology and Society book series (HTE)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xx
  2. Introduction: Theorizing the Resilience of Hybrid Bodies

  3. Technogeographies of Resilience

  4. Resilience and Difference

  5. How Hybrid Bodies Fall Apart

  6. Back Matter
    Pages 329-350

About this book


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.


Vulnerability and resilience of hybrid bodies feminist studies of human-technology relations cyborgs materiality of everyday life sociology of hybrid bodies sociology and anthropology of the body patient empowerment

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Science, Technology and Policy StudiesUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

About the authors

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.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Resilient Cyborgs
  • Book Subtitle Living and Dying with Pacemakers and Defibrillators
  • Authors Nelly Oudshoorn
  • Series Title Health, Technology and Society
  • Series Abbreviated Title Health, Technology and Society
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-981-15-2528-5
  • Softcover ISBN 978-981-15-2531-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-981-15-2529-2
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XX, 350
  • Number of Illustrations 10 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Science and Technology Studies
    Medical Sociology
    Medical Anthropology
    Gender Studies
    Disability Studies
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Resilient Cyborgs is an exquisitely observed account of an important topic, and deserves a wide readership. In feminist science and technology studies and related fields, we have much to learn from the wired heart cyborgs living among us.” (Anne Pollock, Catalyst,, April, 2021)

“I found Resilient Cyborgs to be an excellent discussion of the shared work required in order to live (and die) with a pacemaker or defibrillator. Oudshoorn is particularly successful in placing patient experience and expertise front and centre, without ever under-( or over-) stating the role of medics, technicians, friends and family, society and politics. As a young, female wired heart cyborg myself … encountered many new-to-me aspects of life with a cardiac device.” (Laura Donald, Sociology of Health & Illness, April 8, 2021)

“This book can act as a thought-provoking work for different scholars in getting closer to a complex theme. … Oudshoorn’s analysis on a more solid basis. The intersectional approach may provide an important heuristic for grasping the multiple differences on building resilience.” (Veronica Moretti, TECNOSCIENZA, Vol. 11 (2), 2020)