Conference theme

The Nordic countries have a recognized place on the global scene. Continuously at the top in rankings in quality of life and a whole range of other surveys and a steady reputation as stable and prosperous societies form a main content in the perception of the Nordic.

There is a global demand for knowledge about the Nordic societies. Whether it concerns the economics of the tripartite model, the politics of gender equality, penal and other kinds of humanitarianism, Nordic cooperation, or the cultural innovations of New Nordic cuisine, Nordic design and Nordic Noir, researchers and policymakers from across the globe see the Nordic region as a dynamic research object with ideas worth probing.

In an era of ‘post-truth’, where biased images affect international politics, there is a growing need for research based knowledge on the Nordic countries. The Nordic societies are more complex than indicated by the one-sided endorsements and collective praise. In many areas, the experiences of the five countries differ widely, and Nordic responses to global challenges are full of ambiguities and paradoxes. Why do Nordic countries also perform poorly on some indexes, like suicide rates, and use of solitary confinement? And why do they also demonstrate some features inconsistent with their progressive reputations, i.e. their role in the arms trade or their strongly gender segregated labour markets?

Today the dynamics between internal cooperation practices and patterns of self-identification face pressure to renew in the face of global challenges. These challenges include current and tangible processes, such as the European cooperation crisis, the refugee and migration crises in the Middle East and North Africa, and the rise of populist parties challenging the political establishment. On a more abstract level, it also poses questions about the content and legacy of the Nordic idea and its uses today.

These paradoxical developments call for cross-disciplinary, and comparative research on Nordic historical trajectories, cultural patterns, and recent responses to global challenges. In particular, we invite papers discussing how the Nordic societies are affected by and deal with global events, such as the migration crisis and Brexit, or ‘mega trends’ such as aging and demographic change, the transformation of labour markets and digitalization. We also invite empirical and theoretical papers with historical, interdisciplinary and transnational perspectives that critically examine models, ideas and images related to Nordic experiences, or constructions of ”the Nordic” in transnational institutional spheres and societies outside of Nordic realm.

We especially invite papers dealing with tensions between uniformity and diversity. The Nordic societies are often said to be marked by a high degree of social, political and cultural uniformity and coherence. The resilience of the Nordic societies is regularly explained by reference to the consensual political landscape, the strong universal welfare state, or the uniformity culture established through the Reformation. Does this still apply? How have the traditional narratives of uniformity been challenged and transformed by the recent emphasis on diversity and plurality? Is there something valuable that is in the danger of being lost? How can the emergence of populism be understood? Does Norden, as a semi-peripheral and scarcely populated region, host a cultural myopia, creating conscious and unconscious otherfying discourses in Nordic public debate?

The proposed papers and sessions should be addressed to one of the following preliminary streams:

  1. Cultural diversity and Nordic societies
  2. Nordic cooperation and the transforming geopolitical context
  3. The Nordic way of doing politics and reforms
  4. Welfare state, labour markets and gender equality
  5. Imagining Norden - Branding and Nordic reputation

  6. Nordic culture, public sphere and media