Imagining Norden - branding and Nordic reputation:

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…

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.

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…

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…

Portrait of a young Asta Nielsen from The Danish Film Museum (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

2019.08.28 | Biography, Bodil Marie Stavning Thomsen, The arts

Asta Nielsen (1881-1972)

The Danish theatre actress Asta Sophie Amalie Nielsen became a silent screen world star overnight after her leading role in the silent movie Afgrunden (The Abyss/The Woman always Pays) in 1910.

The Danish playwright Kjeld Abell made the curtain himself for the first performance in 1935 of his first play, the hugely succesful The Melody That Got Lost. (Public domain)

2019.08.27 | Biography, Tom Lundskær-Nielsen, The arts

Kjeld Abell (1901-1961)

Kjeld Abell is one of the most prominent and innovative Danish playwrights in the 20th century. In his early plays he satirises the narrow, conventional outlook of the bourgeoisie from a socialist viewpoint. Later, he focuses on political commitment and moral dilemmas, inspired by World War II and the German occupation of Denmark, while the…

Despite previous moves for economic integration in the Nordics, it became especially vigorous once globalisation took hold, particularly from 1990s. Photo: Calvin Hanson, Unsplash.

2019.08.27 | The Quick Read, Susanna Fellman, Economy, Region-building

The Nordic countries and economic integration

As small, open economies, all the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Island, Norway and Sweden) have been well integrated in the regional and international economy. There have been moves to further intra-Nordic integration, such as, the NORDEK project in 1960s and the establishment of Nordic companies. Each of the five countries has had differing…

Ulf Lundell in concert at Borgholm castle, Öland, Sweden, 26 July 2005. Photo: Betasjufem (CC0 1.0)

2019.08.18 | Biography, Jenny Rood, Juliette Victor, The arts

Ulf Lundell (b. 1949)

Ulf Gerhard Lundell is a Swedish rock singer, composer, author, poet, and artist known as ‘the Swedish Bob Dylan.’

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, Reputation, The Nordics in the World

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…

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