Imagining Norden - branding and Nordic reputation

Perceptions of the Nordics abound, from the reputation of the Nordic welfare state to that of interior design. Content on this page seeks to examine the construction and deconstruction of the different 'brands' of the region; why, when, where and how the region, its individual countries, its way of life, what it produces etc are branded. New articles are added regularly. 


"the greatest enemy of children’s culture is that which is authoritarian and uninspiring" (from principles put together in 1969 at a symposium hosted by the Nordic Council of Ministers in 1969). Photo: Unsplash.

2019.06.03 | The arts, Helle Strandgaard Jensen, Article

How to raise your parents: Scandinavian children’s television in 1970s

Children’s departments in Scandinavian broadcasting corporations (in Denmark, Norway and Sweden) were clearly influenced by the call for equality and the influence of principles arising from the 1968 movement. Producers of children’s programmes worked extensively to democratise children’s television by, for example, taking children’s wishes and…

Kurt Wold, “cubist” stone sculpture (1997), Mefjellet.  Wold’s sculpture frames the view of the Fanaråken glacier and Smørstabb pinnacles.  It was included in the first site to be developed by the NTR. Photo: Krysta Mae Dimick

2019.05.22 | The Quick Read, William C Miller, Architecture & design

Fusion of art and nature along Norway’s scenic routes

A national initiative developed by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) from the 1990s onwards creates numerous artistic, architectural, and landscape design experiences located along scenic travel routes in Norway’s striking and dramatic natural settings. Intended to increase access and bolster businesses in the rural countryside, the…

Poster from Kvindefestival, held in Fælledparken, Copenhagen in 1980 which had the motto ‘The struggle against women’s oppression is international’. Photo: Courtesy of the Kvindehuset library, Copenhagen.

2019.05.21 | Article, Hannah Yoken, Gender, Reputation

Transnational interaction among feminist activists in the Nordic Countries, 1970s-2000

The Nordic countries are globally renowned as states that embrace gender equality. However, the region also has a rich history of feminist activism at the grassroots level. This history includes activism undertaken during ‘second wave’ feminism, from the late 1960s to the 1990s. During this period of time the women’s movements benefitted from…

Niels Simonsen's 'Tilbagetoget fra Dannevirke' [The Retreat from Dannevirke], 1864.

2019.05.01 | The Quick Read, Rasmus Glenthøj, Culture, The arts, Nation building

The meaning of the Second Schleswig War in Denmark

Denmark lost a third of its territory and 40% of its population in the Second Schleswig War in 1864 to Prussia and Austria. Seen as both a national trauma and the creation of modern-day Denmark, narratives regarding the war that were created at the time - and since - continue to resonate, exemplified by recent debates over its portrayal in TV…

The Finnish writer Pentti Saarikoski in 1967. Photo: Helsinki City Museum (CC BY 4.0)

2019.04.29 | Biography, Joachim Mickwitz, Pietari Kaapa, Literature

Pentti Saarikoski (1937–1983)

The modernist Finnish writer Pentti Saarikoski became famous for his revolutionary sensibilities and anti-authoritarian Christian faith.

The noted socialist theatre director Kalle Holmberg is seen here directing Friedrich Schiller's 'Rosvot' (The Robbers) at the Helsinki City Theater, a play that strongly criticises class disparity and the economic inequities of German society. Actor Olavi Ahonen is in front. Photo: Helsinki City Museum (CC BY 4.0).

2019.04.29 | Biography, Joachim Mickwitz, Pietari Kaapa, The arts

Kalle Holmberg (1939-2016)

One of Finland’s leading theatre directors, Kalle Holmberg became known for his politically conscious productions.

Logo of the Danish Cultural Institute.

2019.04.25 | The Quick Read, Inken Dose, Culture, The arts

Danish Cultural Institute

Founded in 1940, the Danish Cultural Institute aims to foster intercultural understanding both at home and abroad, and has branches in seven countries with activities and networks in many more. Financed by the Danish Ministry of Culture, private funds and its own revenue, it focuses on diverse themes.

The interior of Jørn Utzon’s Bagsværd church (1976), Copenhagen. The curving white flowing ceiling captures Utzon’s intention of creating a cloud-like sky within the space. Photo: seier+seier (CC BY 2.0)

2019.04.10 | Article, William C Miller, Architecture & design

Nordic architecture: a continuing modernism, post-war to 2000

Since the Second World War, Nordic architecture has been informed by a dialogue between modernity and tradition and a sustained respect for local environmental and social conditions. This has provided a creative and expressive foundation for architecture throughout the second half of the twentieth century which has proven to be contextually…

Finnish writer Paavo Haavikko portrayed in 1960. Photographer unknown. Source: Universitat de València (Public domain)

2019.04.08 | Biography, Joachim Mickwitz, Pietari Kaapa, Literature

Paavo Haavikko (1931-2008)

The versatile Finnish author Paavo Haavikko is highly regarded for his modernist poetry and his work in many other genres.

The work of Finnish-Swedish writer Monica Fagerholm, seen here at the Gothenburg book fair in 2009, penetratingly questions key aspects of society. Photo: Rotsee (CC BY-SA 3.0).

2019.04.08 | Biography, Joachim Mickwitz, Pietari Kaapa, Literature

Monika Fagerholm (b. 1961)

Works such as 'Wonderful Women by the Water' established Finnish Monica Fagerholm as a feminist writer.

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