Mats Fridlund


Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion
Visiting address
Renströmsgatan 6
41255 Göteborg
Postal address
Box 200
40530 Göteborg

About Mats Fridlund

Mats Fridlund is Deputy Director for the Gothenburg Research Infrastructure in Digital Humanities (GRIDH) and Researcher at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion (LIR) at University of Gothenburg. He is Associate Professor of History of Science and Ideas at University of Gothenburg and Associate Professor in Digital History at University of Turku. In his research he studies the politics and culture of modern science, technology and innovation, with a focus on the technologies of terrorism and often with the use of digital methods. At GRIDH he provides research support in integrative interdisciplinary digital project design, critical digital humanities, digital text analysis and mixed methods. 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. Since 2023 he is a member of the Swedish Research Council's (VR) review panel for historical disciplines and archaeology (HS-I)

His current research primarily concern the history 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 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 multi-year grant from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ). Furthermore is part of the two research projects SweTerror and Cultural imaginary of terrorism using digital methods to study the political and cultural aspects of Swedish terrorism discourse during and after the Cold War.

His other main research interest concerns digital history where he primarily focus on the use of digital humanities research methods within historical research. In addition to pursuing digital history 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 Finnish research network digihumfi and in 2015 he took part in establishing the Digital History in Finland Network and its conference series on the history of digital history in Finland. 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 he is currently project leader for the two large digital history projects SweTerror– Terrorism in Swedish politics: a multimodal study of the configuration of terrorism in parliamentary debates, legislation, and policy networks in Sweden 1968–2018 funded through the DIGARV programme of the Swedish Research Council (VR) and The cultural imaginary of terrorism: close and distant readings of political terror in Cold War Sweden funded by the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation.

The majority of past research in history of science and technology was 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. 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 (RJ) and received a grant for academic literature for “promoting quality and diversity in book publishing” from the Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs.

He has held appointments in STS, history, history of ideas, and security studies programs at 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. In 2006 he was appointed to the first tenured professorship in History of Technology in Denmark, and in 2013 to the first professorship in History of Industrialization in Finland. 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) and within digital humanities he has served on the Board of Digital Humanities in the Nordic and Baltic Countries (DHNB) and on the Operative Management Team of the Swedish national research infrastructure Huminfra.