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. 


Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer at Writers' and Literary Translators' International Conference in Stockholm, June 30, 2008. Photo: Andrei Romanenko (CC BY-SA 3.0)

2019.08.21 | Biography, Linda Haverty Rugg, Literature

Tomas Tranströmer (1931-2015)

Winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature, Tomas Tranströmer was one of those rare poets who is both acclaimed by scholars and critics as well as beloved by a broad readership in Sweden and internationally. Translated into over 60 languages, his poetry is characterized by powerful imagery, and focuses particularly on the human interface with…

Swedish opera singer Birgit Nilsson performing on 31 July, 1969. Photo: Svenskt Fotoreportage via IMS Vintage Photos (Public domain)

2019.08.16 | Biography, Jenny Rood, Juliette Victor, The arts

Birgit Nilsson (1918-2005)

Birgit Nilsson was a Swedish soprano who performed in the world’s top opera houses and festivals, noted particularly for her roles in Wagner (especially Isolde in Tristan and Isolde), Puccini (Turandot), and Richard Strauss (Elektra). She is considered perhaps the best Wagnerian soprano of her time.

A tribute to Nordic fiction at the French book fair in Paris, 2011. Photo: Silje Bergum Kinsten (CC BY 2.5 DK)

2019.08.07 | Article, Anne-Marie Mai, Literature

An overview of Nordic prose fiction since 1945

Post-war Nordic prose fiction forms a diverse literary landscape, starting with existentialism and a renewal of modernism, and developing with both Nordic and international currents, including realism, postcolonialism, and autofiction. A number of authors from the period are well known both in the Nordic countries and internationally. Among the…

Interest in the Nordic countries blossomed in Japan in early 1900s, re-occuring after the Second World War. Some academics and commentators argue that this early interest remains pervasive today. Photo: Cory Schadt, Unsplash.

2019.08.06 | Article, Kenn Nakata Steffensen, Culture, The arts, Reputation

The Nordics in the modern Japanese political imagination

In the early 1900s, Japanese progressive intellectuals, writers, and feminist activists questioned their country’s quest for power and looked to Scandinavia for an alternative modernity. The Scandinavian modern breakthrough peaked in Japan in the 1910s and 1920s on the back of a burgeoning interest in Nordic literature, philosophy and political…

Danish film director Bille August during the 2008 film festival 'Nordiska Filmdagar' (Nordic Film Days) in Helsingborg, Sweden. Photo: Jan Kivisaar (CC BY 3.0)

2019.08.05 | Biography, Linda Haverty Rugg, The arts

Bille August (b. 1948)

Bille August is a Danish filmmaker in the realist tradition, and a winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1988 for Pelle Erobreren (Pelle the Conqueror). He created a cinematic adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s Den goda viljan (Best Intentions, 1992) and of Peter Høeg’s thriller Frøken Smillas fornemmelse for sne (Smilla’s Sense of…

Herbert Blomstedt in Leipziger Gewandhaus, December 2015. Photo: Alexander Böhm (CC BY-SA 4.0)

2019.08.02 | Biography, Jenny Rood, Juliette Victor, The arts

Herbert Thorson Blomstedt (b. 1927)

Herbert Blomstedt is a Swedish conductor known for both championing Nordic composers and his well-received interpretations of German and Austrian composers over many decades.

A portrait of Danish film director Susanne Bier from 2013. Photo: Les Kaner (CC BY 3.0)

2019.08.01 | Biography, Linda Haverty Rugg, The arts

Susanne Bier (b. 1960)

Acclaimed Danish film director with many awards to her credit, including an Oscar, Golden Globes, an Emmy, and numerous festival and European prizes, Susanne Bier concentrates on family dynamics and their relation to global concerns in her work, particularly poverty and violence.

Swedish Photographer Lennart Nilsson, May 21, 2010. Photo: Holger Ellgaard (CC BY-SA 3.0)

2019.08.01 | Biography, Linda Haverty Rugg, The arts

Lennart Nilsson (1922-2017)

Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson won fame with his photographs of the development of human life inside the uterus.

Ingmar Berman (1918-2007), Swedish stage and film director; photo taken during the production of Wild Strawberries (1957). Svensk Filmindustri (SF) press photo. Source: Svenska filminstitutet.

2019.07.24 | Biography, Linda Haverty Rugg, The arts

Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007)

Ingmar Bergman was a pre-eminent Swedish film director, theater director, screenwriter, and author. Internationally acclaimed as a cinematic auteur, he was known for his exquisite aesthetics and a focus on intense psychological drama, gender issues, theology, philosophy, and autobiography. He worked with a select group of actors and technicians,…

Finnish-Swedish modern dancer and choreographer Virpi Pahkinen in an outdoor performance at Parkteatern Stockholm, 2013. Photo: Bergbohm (CC BY-SA 4.0)

2019.07.24 | The Quick Read, Petra Broomans, The arts

Ballet in Sweden

Founded in 1773, the Royal Swedish Ballet remained relatively traditional until the early part of the twentieth century when modern dance and dancers from elsewhere, such as Russia, gained influence. Developments since then have included the 1940s renaissance for the Swedish ballet due to an Anglo-American orientation and collaborative projects…

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