Mobilising skill and making skill mobile

Crafoord’s surgical tours in South America, 1950–1965


  • Daniel Normark Karolinska institutet


Circulation, skill, performance, thoracic surgery, training tour, Clarence Crafoord


Between 11 March and 15 April 15 1950, the Swedish thoracic surgeon professor Clarence Crafoord and a team of assistants travelled to Argentina and Brazil to demonstrate surgical procedures. The trip was arranged by the visiting Argentinian surgeon Dr Rafael Alascio, and was financed by the government of Argentina, which in relation to this trip ordered surgical equipment from Sweden. Crafoord was invited to describe and explain how some technologies could be used in surgery, and also to exhibit his renowned skills in the operating theatre to selected audiences. While still in South America, the group decided to visit also Rio de Janeiro, and to conduct surgery and deliver lectures in Brazil. This was the first of four tours to South America by Crafoord and his team. In this paper I revisit the first trip as an endeavour to mobilise skill and to make skill mobile.