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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Lehrstuhl für Wissenschaftsgeschichte

Ph.D. Emma Hagström Molin

Ph.D. Emma Hagström Molin

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Emma Hagström Molin is a visiting postdoctoral researcher at the chair for the history of science at Humboldt University in Berlin. She holds one of the international postdoctoral fellowships of the Swedish Research Council, and is associated with the department for history of science and ideas at Uppsala University, Sweden. She earned her PhD in history of ideas, and was a part of the multidisciplinary research school for studies in cultural history at Stockholm University during her PhD-candidature. Her first book is entitled The Biography of Spoils. On the Lives of Loot in the Swedish National Archives, Uppsala University Library, and Skokloster Castle during the Seventeenth Century (Makadam 2015), in which she analyses cases of cultural looting – mainly spoils of archive documents and books – brought to the Swedish kingdom during the seventeenth century. In 2014, she co-edited the book Learned conversations (Lärda samtal, Ellerströms 2014), a Festschrift for professor Erland Sellberg, which deals with the ideals and materialities of the Republic of Letters during the early modern era.

Hagström Molin’s current project is entitled “Materialising Historical Knowledge. Historical Objects and Beda Dudík’s Scientific Practises in Sweden, Italy, and the Austrian Empire 1851–1870”, in which she explores the material conditions for historical research during the nineteenth century through the lens of Moravian historian and Benedictine priest Beda Dudík’s transnational and object-oriented research. During the spring of 2016, she was a visiting postdoctoral fellow in Department II at the Max Planck Institut for the history of science in Berlin, and she was awarded the biannual postdoctoral scholarship of the Fondazione famiglia Rausing for the academic year of 2016–2017, in order to conduct research in Italy.

Hagström Molin has taught and developed several courses in history of ideas at Stockholm University and Södertörn University, from general courses dealing with the history of ideas of the antiquity and middle ages, the twentieth century, as well as advanced courses on bachelor and master level dealing with the material turn and the concept of materiality, together with the concept of culture and culture theory.



  • material turn
  • spoils of war and cultural looting
  • history of archives, libraries, and museums
  • history of nineteenth-century historiography/humanities
  • archive practices
  • cultural history and theory



Materialising Historical Knowledge. Historical Objects and Beda Dudík’s Research Practises in Sweden, Italy, and the Austrian Empire 1851–1878 (working title)

It can be argued, that the historian is not dependent on written sources in his or her work, but rather on material objects that in most cases contain texts. This project then, explores the profound importance of historical objects in the shaping of nineteenth-century historical knowledge by investigating different kinds of transnational research practices in the period when historiography was professionalised and cultural heritage collections were nationalised in Europe. How did research practices and material conditions affect notions of a deeper past, which made such a profound impact on nineteenth-century culture? The problem is examined through analysing the doings of one emblematic actor – the Moravian historian and Benedictine priest Beda Dudík – in Sweden, Italy, and the Austrian empire 1851–1878.

Through three case studies of Dudík’s work, the fundamental importance of locating, organising, and mobilising historical objects will be investigated. The first case, Localisation: Discovering the history of Moravia in Stockholm and Rome 1851–1853, analyses Dudík’s localisation of Moravian history in dislocated objects by focusing on his transnational search for seventeenth-century spoils of war. The second case, Organisation: Handling the past of the Teutonic Order 1853–1865, explores Dudík’s organisation of diverse historical collections belonging to this order in Vienna. The third study, Mobilisation: Removing history during the Austro-Prussian war 1866 investigates Dudík’s abduction of archive documents and manuscripts from the Archivio di Stato and the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice during the Austro-Prussian war on the Italic peninsula in 1866.

By focusing on research practises such as locating, examining, classifying, organising, and mobilising historical objects, all three cases illuminate how nineteenth-century historical knowledge was materially conditioned. Dudík’s research underlines that national historical scholarship was dependant on transnational research, and visiting scholars had to interact with foreign institutions and officials simultaneously as the research practises of the historian sometimes jeopardised the epistemic-institutional interpretation of the objects examined. Ultimately, Dudík’s research illuminates how dependant historians of the nineteenth-century were on material collections, and how vulnerable a small region like Moravia was without any precious objects to underpin its history on, revealing that it was not possible to think or to do history without its objects. 

Importantly, the project applies analytical concepts developed within the last decade’s material turn, meaning that historical objects will be considered to be context-dependent and affective simultaneously, as well as fluid, elusive, and instable in order to capture some of the ways in which the material affected the making of historical knowledge. Doing so, the project wishes to offer novel theoretical takes on the history of historiography and contribute to the emerging field of the history of humanities.


Publikationen (Auswahl)

  • "Spoils of Knowledge. Looted Books in Uppsala University Library in the Seventeenth Century", Rethinking Europe: War and Peace in the Early Modern German Lands, Gerhild Williams et al. (Eds.), (Brill: Leiden, forthcoming 2019)
  • "The Treasure Hunt. Beda Dudík’s Search for the History of Moravia in Stockholm and Rome 1851–1853" [Skattjakten. Beda Dudíks sökande efter Mährens historia i Stockholm och Rom 1851–1853], Biblis, 2017.  
  • "To Place in a Chest". On the Cultural Looting of Gustavus Adolphus and the Creation of Uppsala University Library During the 17th Century, Barok, no. 44, 2017.
  • The Biography of Spoils: On the Lives of Loot in the Swedish National Archives, Uppsala University Library, and Skokloster Castle during the Seventeenth Century [Krigsbytets biografi. Byten i Riksarkivet, Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek och Skokloster slott under 1600-talet], Gothenburg 2015.
  • "Library Materialisations: Spoils, Orders and Space in Uppsala University Library During the 17th Century" [Biblioteksmaterialiseringar. Krigsbyten, samlingsordningar och rum i Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek under 1600-talet], in Marie Cronqvist, Patrik Lundell and Pelle Snickars (Eds.) Återkopplingar, Mediehistoriskt arkiv, Lund 2014.
  • "Materialising the Swedish National Archives: A Biography of Spoils in Mitau 1621"[Materialiseringen av Riksarkivet. En biografi över krigsbytet I Mitau 1621], Lychnos: An annual for History of Ideas and Science, 2013.
  • "The Materiality of War Booty Books: The Case of Strängnäs Cathedral library", in Anna Källén (Ed.) Making Cultural History. New Perspectives on Western Heritage, Nordic Academic Press, Lund, 2013.  
  • "War Booty as Identity Markers in 17th-Century Sweden: Archives and Libraries", Current Issues in European Cultural Studies, Linköping University Electronic Press, 2011.