Transit of knowledge and de-centred science

The journeys of the Swedish physician Ernst Georg Åberg


  • Jaime E. Bortz University of Buenos Aires


Gustav Zander, mechanotherapy, Swedish medicine, Argentinian medicine, nineteenth century, decentred science


Ernst Georg Åberg (1823–1906) was a Swedish physician who, after falling ill of tuberculosis, moved to Argentina in 1855, where he obtained the revalidation of his medical degree. In subsequent years, he integrated into Buenos Aires society, and was appointed to a number of important positions before travelling back to Sweden. In 1884, Åberg founded in Buenos Aires the Therapeutic Institute of Mechanical Gymnastics or Kinesiotherapy Institute, following the principles of the mechanical gymnastics developed by the Swedish author Gustav Zander (1835–1920) and innovative by virtue of its application of gymnastics machines to therapeutic purposes. That same year he published Zander’s Mechanotherapy, which is considered the first publication on the therapeutic virtues of exercise in the Americas. His work made Argentina one of the pioneering countries in the training of physical therapists in the region. The aim of this paper is to explore the role Åberg played in the implementation of the Swedish science of movement, gymnastics, and physical treatment as an innovative therapeutic option, and also to explore a model of circulation of knowledge between two ‘de-centred countries,’ Sweden and Argentina, at the end of nineteenth century.