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. 


Jo Nesbø at The Helsinki Book Fair 2005. Photo: Anneli Salo (CC BY-SA 3.0).

2019.03.18 | Biography, Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen, Literature

Jo Nesbø (b. 1960)

Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø is well known in- and outside the Nordic region for his many books on crime, some of which have been adapted for film.

Portait of Einojuhani Rautavaara. Photo: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

2019.03.18 | Biography, Kyle Frackman, The arts

Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928–2016)

Einojuhani Rautavaara is one of the best-known Finnish composers of the twentieth century. Perhaps most famous globally for his Seventh Symphony, the Angel of Light, he made use of many different musical styles and techniques in a variety of genres, and was not afraid to go against musical trends in composition.

Myyrmäki Church (1984), Vantaa. Photo: author.

2019.03.15 | Biography, William C Miller, Architecture & design

Juha Leiviksä (b. 1936)

The architecture of Finnish architect Juha Leiviksä synthesises an abstract modernism with a sensory, experiential expressionism that results in stunning light-filled interior spaces, especially in his religious buildings.

Town Hall (1939-42), Aarhus (with Erik Møller). Photo: author.

2019.03.15 | Biography, William C Miller, Architecture & design

Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971)

Danish architect and designer Arne Emil Jacobsen is internationally renowned for his modern and functional architecture, furniture, and product designs. Employing a philosophy of ‘economy plus function equals style’, his buildings, furniture and tableware became emblematic of the concept “Danish Modern”.

Kristian Gullichsen, Church (1981), Malmi. Photo by author.

2019.03.15 | Biography, William C Miller, Architecture & design

Kristian Gullichsen (b.1932)

The work of architect Kristian Gullichsen, who is among Finland’s most important designers of the late 20th century, synthesises a cool, restrained modernism with the tactile, experiential, and expressive qualities associated with Finnish architecture.

The Svalbard Seed Vault by night. Photo: Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diversity Trust (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 - photo lighter than original).

2019.03.14 | The Quick Read, Ann Legreid, Region-building, Reputation

Arctic region

The Arctic is a circumpolar region centered on the North Pole, home to diverse human populations, landscapes, vegetation, and wildlife. The climate is harsh supporting a fairly restricted range of occupations, including fishing and hunting, service industries and resource development.

Nordic crime fiction is a literary genre and a publishing phenomenon; it rides the wave of popular interest in the Nordic countries, but frequently criticises and undercuts notions of the welfare state.

2019.03.05 | Article, Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen, Literature, Nordic Noír

Nordic crime fiction

Since 1990s, Nordic crime fiction has been a significant sub-genre within the global genre of crime fiction. Usually characterised by social realism, gloomy locations and morose detectives, crime novels and TV series from across the Nordic region provide puzzling mysteries and thrilling stories that use the crime plot to investigate the state of…

Longyearbyen, March 2018. Photo: Dina Brode-Roger.

2019.03.04 | The Quick Read, Dina Brode-Roger, Literature, Region-building

The Arctic Imaginary

Few have been there and yet everyone has some image of what the Arctic is. For most people, it conjures up images of an extreme environment, white and cold. Or more recently, one of giant ice floes melting away as the impacts of climate change are felt twice as fast near the poles as anywhere else. Although these images may be grounded in some…

The Scream by Norwegian Edvard Munch portrays the angst of modernism. From Wikimedia Commons, https://foto.munchmuseet.no

2019.03.01 | Article, Unni Langås, Literature, The arts

Modernism in the Nordic countries

As elsewhere, modernism was a movement concerning the profound questioning of traditional values, modes of speaking and interpretations of subjectivity. A mass of Nordic literature was produced that could be said to be modernist, from Norwegian Knut Hamsun’s innovative novels in the 1890s, to the influential high Swedish modernism in poetry led by…

Isak and Even's love story from the third season of Shame became popular in Russia. It also became a popular stage show elsewhere, such as in Copenhagen shown here. Photo: Nicola Witcombe

2019.02.28 | Article, Saara Ratilainen, Gender, The Nordics in the World, Research

Russian fans of Norwegian TV series Shame

Fans redefine geopolitical and gender-based boundaries: Shame [Skam], is a hit teen drama series produced by the Public Broadcasting Service in Norway. It ran for four seasons from 2015 to 2017 and became a global phenomenon through an active online fan culture. Remakes abound elsewhere, but Russian teens access Skam largely through social media…

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