“One and the Same the World Over”: The International Culture of Surgical Exchange in an Age of Globalization, 1870–1914

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Abstract

This paper examines the international exchange in surgery in the decades before World War I, a period of growing globalization in communication and transport. Focusing on Europe and North America, it looks first at the various means of exchange, especially surgical travel and the culture emerging around it and follows specific directions of exchange, from France and Britain, first to the German-speaking countries and finally to North America. Subsequently, the account turns to international organizations as an important means of exchange in this time period. The International Society of Surgery, in particular, provided a forum for a vivid internationalist discourse, which, however, stood in tension with simultaneous nationalist tendencies leading up to World War I. The paper finally discusses how the international exchange and communication at the time can be seen as an instance of modern surgeons claiming—and simultaneously trying to create—the global universality of surgical knowledge and practices, making sure that surgery is the same the world over.

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