Thomas Hylland Eriksen

A social anthropologist by training, Eriksen reads, writes and talks in many genres about the contemporary world, what it means to be human and how the world can be made a better place. You can read more here.


Contributions to nordics.info

National symbols vary widely and are often contested. Some of them - such as the social concept of Danish 'hygge' often symbolised by a candle - have been marketed successfully abroad in recent years.

2019.07.09 | The Quick Read, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Culture

National symbols in the Nordic countries

National symbols share an ability to fuse diverse people in a shared feeling of identity. They are as diverse as flags to food, scenery to famous people, and they vary depending on whether they are viewed from inside or outside the Nordics or a specific country. A pressing question today is which national symbols are appropriate for globalised,…

While spectacular sites in Iceland and elsewhere draw visitors from around the world (like the remote canyon on the South Coast of Iceland pictured here), being outdoors in an everyday way from kindergarten and outdoor pursuits are generally considered characteristic of Nordic life. Photo: Jonathan Auh, Unsplash.

2019.04.01 | The Quick Read, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Culture

Outdoors in the Nordics

A comprehensive infrastructure caters to both domestic and foreign demand for outdoor activities in the Nordic countries, a demand resulting from swathes of both developed and undeveloped nature, and a widespread perception that being outdoors is character-building and healthy. In recent times, the younger and immigrant populations have shown that…

The incorruptibility and purity of Norwegian nature was one of the most important elements of nineteenth century Norwegian national romanticism. Here illustrated in Brudeferd i Hardanger / Bridal procession on the Hardangerfjord (1848) by Adolph Tidemand and Hans Gude. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.

2019.04.01 | The Quick Read, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Culture

The role of nature in the Nordic countries

With a low population density in all Nordic countries barring Denmark, nature has taken on a central feature of everyday life for many in the region. It has also played a role in the formation of national identity reflected in art and the ideal of being outdoors.

Hunt for pilot whales at Torshavn, Faroe Islands. Photo: Flickr, Bjarne Stoklund (1961), The National Museum of Denmark (CC BY-SA 2.0)

2019.03.27 | The Quick Read, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Culture

Whaling by Nordic countries

Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands are among the few countries in the world that still permit limited whaling.

Two Norwegian 'hytter' during the summer months. Photo: Colourbox.com/Evannovostro

2019.03.26 | The Quick Read, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Culture

Second homes in the Nordics

Second homes are used as holiday and weekend getaways in the Nordic countries by many people, not just the elite, probably due to widespread prosperity and an abundance of space.

The SIPRI Year Book is the main publication of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It is published every year accounting for armaments, military spending and conflicts internationally. Photo: Courtesy of SIPRI.

2019.03.26 | The Quick Read, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Education

Peace studies in the Nordics

A number of peace research institutes emerged in the Nordics from around 1960. They were initially seen as politically radical and interdisciplinary with a focus on the applied rather than the academic side of peace studies. Since them, they have become more part of the establishment, advising governments and producing staff skilled in peace…

'Smoking forbidden' sign in Swedish. Public areas where people can smoke freely have been on the retreat since the 1980s. Photo: Colourbox.com/Giovanni

2019.03.25 | The Quick Read, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Culture

Smoking in the Nordic countries

Even before Norway banned smoking in public arenas in 2004 and the other Nordic countries followed suit, the percentage of the population who smoke has been diminishing and continues to do so, although Swedish snuff (snus) can be chosen as an alternative.

Heyerdahl directed archaeological excavations in a variety of places including Easter Island and Azerbaijan. Photo: Kon-Tiki Museum (CC BY 3.0)

2019.03.20 | Biography, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Education

Thor Heyerdahl (1916-2002)

The Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdahl was internationally renowned for leading expeditions across vast oceans in rudimentary vessels.

The Nordic countries have been exceptionally receptive to mobile telecommunications. Photo: Jason Briscoe on Unsplash.

2019.03.19 | The Quick Read, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Culture

Mobile phones in the Nordic countries: historical overview

The Nordic mobile telephone network Nordisk MobilTelefoni (NMT) opened in 1981 quickly becoming the world’s largest until the early 2000s when it was superseded by the digital GSM network. Unlike the original Nordic telecommunications companies which were state-owned, mobile providers remain private. Since the turn of the century and certainly…

Janteloven written on a plaque at Aksel Sandemoses childhood home in Nykøbing Mors, Denmark. Photo: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

2019.03.19 | The Quick Read, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Culture

Jantelov

Jantelov or the Law of Jante refers to a disdainful attitude to extraordinary achievements and is often mockingly used to exemplify unflattering aspects of the alleged Nordic trait of placing the value of equality above all else.

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