By shedding light on the transnational networks that linked Buenos Aires and New York with the rest of the modern Atlantic world, my paper reevaluates the relationship between so-called peripheral scientific communities and traditional centers of medical innovation. Piecing together archival and published sources in French, Spanish, and English, I situate Buenos Aires and New York within a multi-centered Atlantic world where information circulated in all directions.
Placing New York and Buenos Aires within the same conceptual framework, my paper pushes Atlantic history beyond the turn of the nineteenth century, the traditional ending point for most Atlantic historians. In the second half of the nineteenth century, New York and Buenos Aires underwent similar economic and social transformations, as globalizing forces intensified and transatlantic linkages deepened. With international migration fueling urban growth and industrialization, these two cities began to experience the dark side of urbanization: class and ethnic tensions flared, the living conditions of the poor deteriorated, and diseases like tuberculosis and syphilis spread. But if globalization created new problems in Buenos Aires and New York, it also brought ways to confront them, in the case of syphilis by facilitating the circulation of medical knowledge within the Atlantic world. By examining not a tropical disease but a disease associated with this process of modernization, my work reveals the similarities between New York and Buenos Aires.