Uncovering Sweden in an International Context with Carl Marklund

2021.06.16 | Carl Marklund

Carl Marklund is a researcher and research director at the Institute of Contemporary History at Södertörn University.

Many commentators talk about the Nordics as successful societies that should be emulated. But criticism of the Nordic countries is equally widespread. In this interview, Carl Marklund, researcher and research director at the Institute for Contemporary History at Södertörn University, traces how some of Sweden’s policymaking successes and failures since the Cold War have been perceived in Sweden itself as well as outside the region, including:

  • Sweden’s early involvement in humanitarianism;
  • The ‘utopian trap’;
  • Sweden-bashing;
  • Perspectives on social engineering.

This is the tenth virtual visit around the Nordic countries in the podcast series ’The Nordics Uncovered: Critical Voices from the Region’. Carl was interviewed by editor of nordics.info Nicola Witcombe in June 2021 over Zoom. He has researched and written about Sweden's reputation abroad and how this is reflected in domestic policymaking and self-perception.


Further reading:

  • Andreas Mørkved Hellenes, Fabricating Sweden: Studies of Swedish public diplomacy in France from the 1930s to the 1990s (University of Oslo: Faculty of Humanities, 2019).
  • Byron Zachary Rom-Jensen, The Scandinavian Legacy: Nordic Policies as Images and Models in the United States (Aarhus: Aarhus University, 2018).
  • Carl Marklund, 'The Nordic Model on the Global Market of Ideas: The Welfare State as Scandinavia’s Best Brand', Geopolitics, 22,3 (2017) pp. 623-639.
  • Carl Marklund, 'A Swedish Norden or a Nordic Sweden?: Image Politics in the West during the Cold War', In: Jonas Harvard & Peter Stadius, eds, Communicating the North: Media Structures and Images in the Making of the Nordic Region (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013) pp. 263-287.
  • Carl Marklund, 'Soft Power', In: International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (Second Edition), (Oxford: Elsevier, 2020) pp. 291-296
  • Nikolas Glover, National Relations: Public Diplomacy, National Identity and the Swedish Institute 1945–1970 (Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2011).