Dr Mats Fridlund (b. 1965) studies the politics and culture of modern science, technology and innovation, with a focus on the technologies of terrorism and digital history. He is born in Sweden where he studied engineering physics and history of science and technology at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, from which Department of History of Science and Technology he received his PhD in 1999.
He is Reader in History of Science and Ideas and Deputy Director of Centre for Digital Humanities at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion (LIR) at University of Gothenburg.
His current research primarily concern various aspects of the science, technology and materiality of terrorisms. An ongoing study focus on the development of urban terrormindedness, how cities and citizens since the 19th century have used various technologies to cope with different forms of man-made terror and terrorism. A second study investigates the materiality of non-state terrorism by investigating the role appropriation of engineering expertise and industrial technologies such as dynamite revolvers have played in the rise of modern revolutionary terrorism during the long 19th century. His research on the history of terrorism has been competitively awarded several large multi-year grants from national Swedish research financiers, in 2010 his project Spreading Terror: Technology and Materiality in the Transnational Emergence of Terrorism, 1866-1898 received a grant from the Swedish Research Council (VR) within its research programme The Globalization of Society and in 2018 his project Things for living with terror: a global history of the materialities of urban terror and security received a grant from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ).
An emerging research interest concerns digital history, the use of digital humanities research methods within historical research. In addition to pursuing research he is involved in organizational activities aimed at institutionalizing digital humanities within the Nordic countries. In 2013 he and Jessica Parland-von Essen founded the research network digihumfi is and in 2015 he took part in establishing the Digital History in Finland Network (digihumfi) and its annual conference series. He has been PI for the research project Towards a Roadmap for Digital History in Finland: Mapping the Past, Present & Future Developments of Digital Historical Scholarship funded by the Kone-foundation and is Co-PI of the project Terrorism in Swedish Politics (SweTerror): A Multimodal Study of the Configuration of Terrorism in Parliamentary Debates, Legislation, and Policy Networks in Sweden 1968–2018, within the Research Program Digitisation and Accessibility of Cultural Heritage (DIGARV) funded by The Swedish Research Council (VR); Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation (RJ) & The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.
His first book Den gemensamma utvecklingen: Staten, storföretaget och samarbetet kring den svenska elkrafttekniken (1999), examined the relationship between Swedish nationalism, engineering culture and development of electric power technology through the lens of the ‘development pair’ between the Swedish State Power Board and the Asea company. It won the Nils Eric Svenson Award from the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation and received a grant for academic literature for “promoting quality and diversity in book publishing” from the Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs.
The majority of past and present research is part of a wider research programme Enginering Ideologies: Mentalities and Materialities of the Technopolitics of Engineering from Industrialism to Postindustrialism characterized by a two-sided approach to study the connections between technological practice, knowledge and ideology. The first side consist of studying the internal cultures and ideologies of engineering through its connected professional practices, social networks and political and epistemological values, while the other side analyze the engineering of ideologies by designers and engineers who through technological activities un/knowingly worked to further or counter larger political agendas and cultural ideologies. An ongoing project continues the research on the ideologies and cultures of electrical engineering through a study of ‘corporate luddism’, i.e. resistance to technological innovation from managers, engineers, and industrial researchers in the electrical industry.
He has held appointments in STS, history and Security Studies programs at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Aalto University, University of Gothenburg, University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Northwestern University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Imperial College London, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Manchester, Swedish Institute for Studies of Education and Research (SISTER) and Linköping University. His standing within the history of technology has been recognized by his appointments to the first tenured professorship in History of Technology in Denmark (2006), and the first professorship in History of Industrialization in Finland (2013). He has served on the executive bodies of the two main professional organisations in the history of technology International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC) and Society for the History of Technology (SHOT).