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. 


In the 1960s, commentators suggested the behavior of Scandinavian mothers, such as dominating child-rearing and going out to work, influenced their offspring's mental health and led to higher suicide rates. Photo: Les Anderson, Unsplash.

2019.11.28 | Outlook, Byron Zachary Rom-Jensen, Reputation, Culture, Research

‘Socialist’ suicide in Scandinavia: a historical view of a common myth

High rates of suicide are often connected with the Nordic countries and their apparently ‘socialist’ policies. Highlighting high suicide rates in Scandinavia can be traced back to at least the 1960s when foreign observers attempted to either undermine or legitimize the welfare states in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. These characterizations forced…

Swedish ballet dancer Johan Renvall in rehearsal at The Royal Swedish Opera, c. 1985. Photo: Enar Merkel Rydberg (CC BY-SA 4.0)

2019.11.27 | Article, Petra Broomans, The arts

Ballet in the Nordics

Classical ballet in the Nordic countries has its roots in Nordic folk dance and has been influenced by the Italian, French and Russian traditions, the latter assisted by Finland’s and Sweden’s proximity to the cultural hub of St Petersburg. Nordic ballet has conversely inspired ballet in Europe and America. As elsewhere, classical ballet and…

The novel Blodförmörkelse (1951) was inspired by Rut Hillarps love affair with the Rumanian poet Mihail Gandhi Livada. Photo: Saskia Vogel, http://www.musicandliterature.org/.

2019.11.27 | Biography, Anne Heith, Literature

Rut Hillarp (1914–2003)

The work of the Swedish poet and novelist Rut Hillarp is best known for its honest portrayal of female sexuality and desire.

A scene from the 'Veslefrikk' performance in 1950 by the Norwegian ballet ensemble Ny Norsk Ballett (active 1948–1955). Source: Oslo Museum (CC BY-SA 3.0)

2019.11.20 | The Quick Read, Petra Broomans, The arts

Ballet in Norway

After its independence in 1905, Norwegian ballet took on a tradition of its own, lately being characterised by classical ballet and modern dance merging and influencing one another. This is demonstrated not least by postmodern dance innovatively integrating folklore elements.

Karl Vennberg in 1960, Photo: Unkown, Albert Bonniers förlag. Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

2019.11.20 | Biography, Anne Heith, Literature

Karl Vennberg (1910–1995)

The Swedish poet Karl Vennberg, who was awarded the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 1972, published collections that contained various messages, including criticism towards Western culture and romanticism, and the lauding of everyday life as central.

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

2019.11.09 | 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…

Portrait of Ulla Isaksson from 1952. Photo: Jan Ehnemark. (CC-BY).

2019.11.08 | Biography, Anne Heith, Literature

Ulla Isaksson (1916-2000)

Much of the work of writer Ulla Isaksson focuses on the lives of women and their relationships, but also includes screenplays and autobiograhpical and biographical literature.

Portrait of Lars Ahlin c. 1960. Photo: unknown. Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

2019.10.31 | Biography, Anne Heith, Literature

Lars Ahlin (1915–1997)

Lars Ahlin was a Swedish writer whose work explores aestheticism, degradation and the loss of dignity, as well as equality and democracy.

Gunnar Björling by his typewriter in 1960. Photo: Holger Eklund. Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

2019.10.22 | Biography, Anne Heith, Literature

Gunnar Björling (1887–1960)

Poet Gunnar Björling flouted conventional grammar and syntax rules and is recognised as a radical, modernist in Sweden.

Studio-Based Learning is not only for the arts, but is also used to teach students to think imaginatively in business for example. Picture: KADK, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design, and Conservation, Denmark. Source: https://kadk.dk/galleri/

2019.10.17 | Article, Sille Julie J. Abildgaard, Education, Business, Research

Studio-Based Learning in the Nordics

Studio-Based Learning (SBL) is an educational tradition with a student-centered approach. The practice originates in Northern Europe, where Nordic arts and design programs have a long tradition of using studio spaces for teaching. The physical space is considered a powerful factor in facilitating learning and accomplishing instructional goals, and…

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