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. 


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…

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

2019.08.05 | 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.

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…

Danish poet Inger Christensen reads from one of her works at the 2008 launch of 'Nordisk litteratur til tjeneste' (Nordic literature at your service), an anthology of canonical Nordic literature. Photo: Johannes Jansson/norden.org (CC BY 2.5 DK)

2019.08.05 | Biography, Linda Haverty Rugg, Literature

Inger Christensen (1935-2009)

One of Denmark’s most daring experimental twentieth-century poets, Inger Christensen pushes language to its extreme limits while also engaging with philosophical concepts and political issues such as gender, ecology, and nuclear war.

Mikael Niemi during the presentation of the year's Summer hosts in Sveriges Radio on 29 May 2013. Photo: Frankie Fouganthin (CC BY-SA 3.0)

2019.08.05 | Biography, Linda Haverty Rugg, Literature

Mikael Niemi (b. 1959)

Mikael Niemi is a novelist, poet, playwright and short-story writer often focusing on the Tornedal region of Sweden where he lives. His work is steeped in fantasy, folklore, and science fiction, and expressive of a place and people at the margins of the Swedish national culture.

Swedish opera singer Elisabeth Söderström, ca. 1960. (Public domain)

2019.08.05 | Biography, Jenny Rood, Juliette Victor, The arts

Elisabeth Söderström (1927-2009)

Elisabeth Söderström was a Swedish soprano known for both her acting and her singing talent, and particularly noted for her performances of Mozart and Strauss and her recordings of Janáček.

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.

Swedish opera singer Anne Sofie von Otter, portrait from October 2011. Photo: Ewa-Marie Rundquist (CC BY 3.0)

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

Anne Sofie von Otter (b. 1955)

Anne Sofie von Otter is a Swedish mezzo-soprano noted for her versatile voice, her trouser roles in classical and romantic opera as well as her interpretations of oratorios, German Lieder, and Scandinavian songs.

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.

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