The get-to-know: Mats Fridlund

Mats Fridlund is an Associate Professor of the History of Industrialization at the department of Mechanical Engineering, Aalto University, Finland.

From Fridlund’s presentation page at Aalto University:
”I use historical methodologies to study the culture and politics of technological industrialization, innovation and use. Current research focus on the science, technology and materiality of terrorisms and its connections to industrialization and globalization. An ongoing study investigates the materiality of non-state terrorism by analyzing the role appropriation of engineering expertise and industrial technologies such as dynamite, revolvers and print technologies have played in the rise of modern terrorism. My project Spreading Terror: Technology and Materiality in the Transnational Emergence of Terrorism, 1866-1898 has been awarded a multiyear grant from The Swedish Research Council (VR) within its research program ”The Globalization of Society”. Another complementary study analyze the development of urban ‘terrormindedness’, how cities and citizens have used technologies such as gas-masks, fallout shelters and security bollards to cope with man-made terror and terrorism.

The majority of my earlier research is part of my research program Engineering Ideologies: Mentalities and Materialities of the Technopolitics of Engineering from Industrialism to Postindustrialism on the interaction between technological practice, knowledge and ideology within electric power and telecommunications, studying the internal cultures and ideologies of engineering and the engineering of ideologies through technological activities shaping larger political agendas and cultural ideologies.”

Selection of articles relevant to workshop theme:

Buckets, Bollards and Bombs: Towards Subject Histories of Technologies and Terrors” Fridlund, Mats 2011 in History and Technology: An International Journal.

This article provides a theoretical and empirical contribution to the political history of technology by articulating a new conceptual perspective on the power of technological things and through outlining a history of modern urban technological terror and terrorism. It introduces a user-centered perspective on technological politics in the form of ‘subject histories of technology’ which, contrasting with prevalent ‘object histories of technology’ on technological inventions and innovators, emphasize the self-fashioning power of technological artifacts. Through an overview history of technology of ‘terrormindedness’ covering the three subsequent waves of urban terror arising from aerial bombardment, nuclear weapons and substate terrorism it shows how technologies have been used by individual citizens to cope with the experience of man-made fear and insecurity. In conclusion it argues that the political history of technology should to the focus on community politics and system politics of big institutional technologies add an attention to the personal politics of the emotional and material power of small technical things.

Book chapters:
Affording Terrorism: Idealists and materialities in the emergence of modern terrorism
Fridlund, Mats 2012 in Max Taylor & P.M. Currie, eds. Terrorism and Affordance (Continuum:). Fridlunds chapter is available via his personal webpage.

”Motståndets materialitet: Oppositionella ting, tekniker och kroppar under Finlands ofredsår”
Fridlund, Mats 2015, in Kaiserfeld, Thomas & Wormbs, Nina (eds.) Med varm hand: texter tillägnade Arne Kaijser (KTH, Stockholm). Fridlunds chapter is available via his personal webpage (in Swedish).

”Det nya gränsöverskridande våldet: Terroristen och den tidiga globaliseringen” Fridlund, Mats 2012 in Birgitta Svensson & Anna Wallette, eds. Individer i rörelse: Kulturhistoria i 1880-talets Sverige (Makadam:).

Interviews and media apperances:

Technology & terrorism in the 19th century” (video presentation in English).

Terrorismens drivkrafter” (video interview in Swedish).