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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Gill Haddow

Gill Haddow
Dr Gill Haddow
Senior Lecturer
Science Technology and Innovation Studies School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
2.87 Old Surgeons' Hall High School Yards Edinburgh UK EH1 1LZ
+44 (0) 131 650 2389
Research Interests
Patient experiences, Cyborgs, Sociology of health and illness, Medical sociology, Qualitative Research Methods, embodiment, public engagement

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • My feedback hours during term time are on Mondays 9.30 to 11.30. You are welcome to make an appointment at other times.


I have a background in the sociology of health and biomedicine and have developed a special interest in new and emerging scientific and medical technologies.  Conceptually I have brought these interests together through theoretical interests in embodiment, identity and relationships. Areas of research in the last ten years have included animal-human transplantation; genetic databases; implantable smart technologies; organ transplantation and donation and telemedicine.

In 2013 I was awarded a Wellcome Trust University Award for the project 'Animal, Mechanical and Me: The Search For Replaceable Hearts'.  Here is a summary of the findings:

If you had the choice between human, animal and mechanical parts to replace or repair your body what would you choose?  Most of us will choose to have human organs.  Ideally, according to research from the project 'Animal, Mechanical and Me' these organs will be ones that are 3-D bioprinted so the donor and the recipient will be the same person.  Till such technology becomes (ever) available, most are willing and happy to accept organs from someone that they know.  Organs from deceased strangers are acceptable but not as preferred as those that are known, or, most liked, as your own.  Animal organs on the other hand are the least liked.

Why is this? In everyday life, who the person is, is mostly experienced as indistinct to what the person.  So changing the body, means altering subjectivity.  Because most organs have a backstory (human for example) preferences reflect an avoidance of being contaminated with characteristics from the donor.  In this experiential understanding, it makes sense, that backstories that emphasis characteristics of those non-human animal organs that are disliked, e.g. from ‘dirty pigs’ are to be most avoided.  In-between dislike dirty pigs, and love for personalised printed organs is the murky area of beliefs about mechanical devices.

Medical devices, such as implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) are routinely implanted into human hearts to stop them going into a life threatening rhythm. Because these medical devices are cybernetic, (they have control, command, and communicate functions within a closed feedback loop system) putting them into people creates ‘everyday cyborgs’.  Everyday cyborgs have their subjectivity altered, not by contamination of characteristics from the donor, but by mechanical invasion and alienation to the device.  Alienation and invasion are exacerbated by the cybernetics device ability to shock (in both sense of the word) the heart.  The 1) new techno-organic hybridity of the everyday cyborg and 2) the lack of control they exert over their cybernetic device, requires acclimatisation to. 

To see the outcome of this project as an artistic output and as a collaboration between young people, ICD patients, artists, and others see the documentary Everyday Cyborgs and Humanimals

Edinburgh Research Explorer profile


Research Interests

Patient experiences, Cyborgs, Sociology of health and illness, Medical sociology, Qualitative Research Methods, embodiment, public engagement

Current Projects

Social Science/Art projects:  Everyday CYBORGS: Stories from the Inside Out/Outside In

In-Valid You/th: Currently underway, is a Wellcome Trust funded public engagement project, called ‘In-valid You/th’ that is allowing a handful of teenagers to make their own short film about the fictional experiences of people whose bodies have undergone repair, replacement or regeneration with prosthetics, bionics or cybernetics or non-human animal parts.  Creating a film about individuals who may have faced stigma due to apparent physical disadvantages, may resonate with the structural constraints of living in Muirhouse or other circumstances that might be difficult. The chronic economic deprivation of the lived environment requires repair, replacement and regeneration in a similar way that some young people’s bodies may do. The views of the ‘digital citizens’ born in the internet age, are key to exploring how future high technologies might be received.  The participant-actors will 1) benefit directly from learning about the film making process through the support of directors, animators and musicians and 2) gains to self-confidence through the completion and dissemination of the outcome and 3) by challenging themselves about stigma of physical difference creates opportunities to challenge prejudices about health and wealth (e.g. the ‘undeserving poor’). We have already visited Scottish Electronics Centre and the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Cardiology Department and a Dissection at Old Surgeon’s Hall is planned  

Completed Projects

Social Science/Art projects:  Everyday CYBORGS: Stories from the Inside Out/Outside In

Electrifying Cyborg Heart: is a two-minute animation based on the separation of self/body and subject/object playing on the cultural iconography and scientific representation of the heart. It outlines how both the body and the self, come to accommodate the alien implant (implantable cardiac defibrillator). Cameron Duguid is the animator and used a light box technique

Maggie's ICD Story: I have also been working with one of my participant respondents who has recently been implanted with an ICD.  You can see her story (Maggie's Story) on Vimeo here:  It shows Maggie, newly implanted with an ICD, writing about the various emotions, inner dialogue and other people’s reactions to her, on a variety of different backgrounds (Letters, diaries, appointment cards, ECG readings etc).  She is sharing with an audience how it feels to be an ‘everyday cyborg’.  The film-maker Ross Ziegelmeier used stop-motion animation (for an example of his work see ).

Everyday Cyborgs: A story about bodies in parts (in production): An animated film that will be in 5 sequences and is based on the different stages of the cyborgisation process that starts with the implantation of a cybernetic device – ICD.  Working again with Ross, we have Helen Cowdy on board with us

Other Research Activities

  • BrainWaves, Series 6, Radio Scotland 
  • Cyborgs and Humanimals:  Filmhouse, Edinburgh in May 2018.  
  • Herald Newspaper: The Rise of Homo Technicans…half human and half machine 22ndJanuary 2017. 
  • The Big Idea for Schools, (September 2016) ‘Social and Ethical Consequences of Whole Genome Sequencing’, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
  • Festival of Politics, August 2016. ‘Ex-Machina; Just another FemBot’? Discussion Panel, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh.
  • Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas, Edinburgh Fringe, (August 2016) ‘One-Stop-Human-Body Shop’.
  • Chair and Organiser (December 2016) Biomedical Research Ethics, Biomedical Ethics Film Festival, The University of Edinburgh. 
  • Chair and co-organiser (May 2015 – onwards) Mason Institute Film Night; Ethics and Law at the Movies. 
  • Co-organiser (September 2015) Symposium of Costumed Visons of Enhanced Bodies,The University of Manchester. 
  • Chair and co-organiser: (May 2014) Mind the Gap: From Cell Discoveries to Therapies, Horizons in Human Cells, Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh.
  • Chair and co-organiser: (28thApril 2014) Healing Hands: From Vitruvian to Mechanical Man, The Tent Gallery, Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh. 
  • Chair and organiser: (November 2013) Cyborg-ethics, Biomedical Ethics Film Festival,The University of Edinburgh. 


Guidance and Feedback Hours

My feedback hours during term time are on Mondays 9.30 to 11.30. You are welcome to make an appointment at other times.

Undergraduate Teaching

Medical Sociology

From the moment we are conceived to the time of our death, medicine plays a profound role in all of our lives. But how should we understand ‘medicine’ as a domain that has become so ubiquitous in the modern world? And how might social scientists study it?

PhD Supervision

PhD Topics

I am interested in identity, embodiment, organ transplantation, genetics, ARTs, public engagement, patient participation, as well as the impact that new and emerging medical biotechnologies have more generally; usually using approaches from medical sociology, sociology of health and illness, or science and technology studies.

Find out more about the programmes that I am involved with:

PhD in Science and Technology Studies; PhD in Social Anthropology; PhD in Sociology; MSc (R) Science and Technology Studies

Current PhD Students

  1. Laura Donald (2019) Narrating chronic heart disease in contemporary British and American writing, 1980-present. AHRC Scholarship Glasgow University.

  2. Natalie Dupin (2018) Interdisciplinary doctoral training: becoming a researcher across the disciplines

  3. Anna Kuslits (2017) Representations of 18thAnatomical Artefacts 

  4. Vassilis Galanos (2017) Mapping Human-Machine Symbiosis: STS Investigations of Artificial Intelligence and Cyborg Technologies (ESRC/Open Competition). 

  5. Fiona Coyle (2016) CRISPR and the consequences of germline modifications (ESRC/Open Competition)

  6. Annie Sorbie (2016) What do appeals to the Public Interest do? 

Completed PhD Students

Natalia Nino Machado (2018) ‘Growing Right’ Child Growth Standards in Colombia.Malissa K Shaw: Embodied Agency and Agentic Bodies: Negotiating Medicalisation in Colombian Assisted Reproduction (2016)

Sara Bea: No Heroics, Please: Mapping Deceased Donation Practices in a Catalan Hospital (ESRC/Open Competition) (2017)

Alison Wheatley: Good Soldiers, Good Guys, and Good Parents: The Meanings of Donation and Donated Tissue in the Context of the Danish Donor Sperm Industry (2016)

Tirion Seymour: The Third Sector and the Shaping of Scottish Huntingdon’s disease services: organisations, identity and boundary work (ESRC/Open Competition) (2016)

Tarmphong Chobisara: The Authentic Research Relationship in Biobanks Winner in the field of law for the Anglo-Thai Society Education Awards (2016)

Leah Gilman: Qualifying Kinship: How do UK Gamete Donors Negotiate Identity-Release Donation (2017)


Haddow, G. (forthcoming) Embodiment and Everyday Cyborgs: Technologies of Altered Subjectivities, Manchester University Press, Manchester.

Haddow, G., (forthcoming) Animal, Mechanical and Me: Organ Transplantation and the Ambiguity of Embodiment. In Oxford Handbook of the Body and Embodiment.

Haddow, G. (forthcoming) ‘When I first saw Jesus he was a Cyborg’ in Gray, C., H, and Mentor, S (eds) ‘Modified Bodies: Living as A Cybernetic Organism’, Routledge, 

Haddow, G. (2010) ‘The Phenomenology of Death, Embodiment and Organ Transplantation’, Sociology of Health and Illness, Vol. 24, No. 6 pp 92 – 113.  Reproduced with permission in Moore, L. J., and Kosut, M., The Body Reader: Essential Social and Cultural Readings, New York University Press, New York, 108-123.

Haddow G. (2009). We only did it because he asked us": gendered accounts of participation in a population genetic data collection.  Social Science & Medicine. 69(7), 1010-1017 

Haddow, G. (2006). Because you’re worth it? The Taking and Selling of Transplantable OrgansJournal of Medical Ethics, 32, 324-328. 

Haddow, G. (2005) ‘The Phenomenology of Death, Embodiment and Organ Transplantation’Sociology of Health and Illness, Vol. 24, No. 6 92 – 113. 

Haddow, G. (2003) ‘Donor and non-donor families’ accounts of communication and relations with healthcare professionals,’ Progress in Transplantation, Vol.13, No.2 1 – 7. 

Joint Articles and Book Chapters:

Pickersgill, M., Chan, S., Haddow., G., Laurie, G., Sturdy, S., and Cunningham-Burley S., (2019). "Biomedicine, self and society: An agenda for collaboration and engagement." Wellcome Open Research 4: 9

Ikegwuonu, T., Haddow, G., Tait J., and Kunkler, I., (2018). "Horizon scanning implanted biosensors in personalising breast cancer management: First pilot study of breast cancer patients views.” Health Sci Rep1(4): 30.

Mittra, J., Mastroeni, M., Haddow, G., Wield, D., and Barlow, E. (2019) ‘Re-imagining Healthcare and Medical Research Systems in Post Devolution Scotland’Sociological Research Online, 24 (1): 55-72.

Haddow, G. and B. Barnes (2018). "STS and the Importance of Being a Collective: Gill Haddow Talks with Barry Barnes." Engaging Science, Technology and Society 4: 267-283.

Vermeleun, N., Haddow, G., Seymour, T., Faulkner-Jones, A., Shu, W., (2018) 3-D Bioprint Me: A Socio-ethical Analysis of 3-D bioprinting, Journal of Medical Ethics.  See blog So what is not to like about 3-D Bioprinting?

Harmon, S., Haddow, G., and Gilman L, (2016) ‘Implantable Smart Medical Devices: An Empirical Examination of Characteristics, Risks and Regulation’, Law, Innovation and Technology. 7, No 2 231-252

Haddow, G., King, E, Kunkler, I, and McLaren D., (2015) ‘Cyborgs in the Everyday: Masculinity and Biosensing Cancer’, Science and Culture. 

Haddow G., Harmon, S., and Gilman L, (2015) ‘Implantable Smart Technologies (IST): Defining the ‘Sting’ in Data and Device’, Health Care Analysis. 1-18

Mikami, K., Alastair, K., and Haddow G., (2015) ‘The Life Costs of living with Rare Diseases: Cases of Huntingdon’s Disease and PKU’ in Kumar, D., and Chadwick, R., (eds) Genomics and Society, Elsevier Press, London.

Ikegwuonu, T   Haddow, G.,   Tait, J   Kunkler, I (2015) Recovering breast cancer patients’ views about the use of in-vivo biosensors to personalise radiotherapy treatmentInnogen Working Paper

Haddow, G., Mittra, J., Snowden, K., Barlow, E., and Wield D., (2014) From Sick Man to living lab – Narratives of Scottish health since devolution. Innogen Working Paper.

Harmon, S., Laurie, G., and Haddow, G. (2013) Governing Risk, Engaging Publics and Engendering Trust: New Horizons for Law and Social ScienceScience and Public Policy, 40 (1) 25-33 

S. Harmon & G. Haddow, (2012) "Banking (on) the Brain: The Neurological in Culture, Law and Science" 12 Medical Law International 79-91.

Haddow G., Murray, L. & Cunningham-Burley, S., (2011). Can the governance of a population genetic data bank effect recruitment? Evidence from the public consultation of Generation Scotland. Public Understanding of Science. Vol. 20, No. 1 (January) 117-129 

Haddow, G., Bruce, A., Sathandam, S., and Wyatt, J (2010) Nothing is really safe’: a focus group study on the processes of anonymising and sharing of health data for research purposes. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. 

Haddow, G., Bruce, A., Calvert, J., Harmon, S., & Marsden, W. (2010). Not ‘human’ enough to be human but not ‘animal’ enough to be animal – the case of the HFEA, cybrids and xenotransplantationNew Genetics and Society, March, 29 (1) 3 – 9 . 

Roberts, A., Heaney, D., Haddow, G., & O'Donnell, C.A. (2009). Implementation of a national nurse-led telephone health service in Scotland: assessing the consequences for remote and rural localities. Rural and Remote Health

Haddow, G., Cunningham-Burley, S., Bruce, A., & Parry, S. (2008). Generation Scotland: consulting publics and specialists at an early stage in a genetic database's development. Critical Public Health, 18(2), 139 - 149. 

Williams, B., Entwistle, V., Haddow G., and Wells, M., (2008) Promoting research participation: Why not advertise altruismSocial Science and Medicine, Vol 66, 7 1451-1456 

Williams, B., Entwistle, V., Haddow G., and Wells M., (2008) Placing evidence in context: A response to Fry’s commentary, Social Science and Medicine, Vol 66, 7, 1461-1462

Haddow, G., and Cunningham-Burley, S., (2008) ‘Tokens of Trust or Token Trust?: The case of Population Genetic Data Collections’ in ‘Trust, Health and Illness’ (eds) Alexandra Greene, Julie Brownlie and Alexandra Howson, Routledge.

Haddow, G, O’Donnell, K and Heaney, D. (2007) ‘Organisational identity and its role in the provision of unscheduled immediate health care’Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, Volume 13, Issue 2, 179-185. 

Haddow, G., Laurie, G., Cunningham-Burley, S., & Hunter, K. (2007). Tackling Community Concerns about Commercialisation and Genetic Research: A Modest Interdisciplinary Proposal. Social Science and Medicine, 64, 272-282. 

Smith, B., Campbell, H., Blackwood, D., Connell, J., Connor, M., Deary, I., Dominiczak, A.F., Fitzpatrick, B., Ford, I., Jackson, C., Haddow, G., Kerr, S., Lindsay, R., McGilchrist, M., Morton, R., Murray, G., Palmer, C., Pell, J., Ralston, S., St Clair, D., Sullivan, F., Watt, G., Wolf, R., Wright, A., Porteous, D., & Morris, A. (2006). ‘Generation Scotland: the Scottish Family Health Study: A new resource for researching genes and heritability.’ BMC Medical Genetics, 7, 74 



 International (2014 – onwards):

  • Haddow G., (January 2015) Conceptualizing Disability as a Public Health Issue: Impairment, Enhancement and Emerging Biotechnologies, Brocher Foundation, Switzerland. 
  • Haddow, G., (October 2014) Everyday Cyborgs and their Life with a Heart Device, The University of Copenhagen.
  • Haddow, G. (April 2014) Everyday Cyborgs and their life with a Heart Device, Wellcome Trust Workshop, ‘Translational Bodies: Ethical, Legal and Social Issues, Prato, Italy.
  • Haddow, G, (January 2014) Me and Mine: What does Embodiment have to say about Property Rights? Broche Foundation, Geneva Switzerland.

National (most recent):

  • Haddow, G., (May 2017), Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators: The Becoming of the Everyday Cyborg, University of Newcastle, Newcastle.
  • Haddow, G., (February 2017), Panellist, Enhancing Engagement, Co-production, and Collaborative Meaning-Making in Qualitative Health Research, UCL Qualitative Health Research Network, London.
  • Haddow, G, (September 2016) Everyday Cyborg Stories From the Inside Out, Wellcome Trust, London.
  • Haddow, G., (April 2016); The Ethics of Cyborgisation; The Ambiguity of Embodiment and The Triad of I, Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield.
  • Haddow, G., (November 2014) Animal, Mechanical and Me: Muddled Bodies, muddling along; Nuffield Council of Bioethics, Barbican Centre, London.