Our starting point is the simple observation that “Nordic” and “Scandinavian” are flexible and contested concepts that continue to be used in many and often contradictory ways. They have been associated with political projects and institutions (pan-Scandinavism, the Nordic Council) while also functioning as categories of analysis in academic research (Nordic model, Nordic welfare states). Moreover, they have also been used to pin-point a regional identity, which is often said to complement, rather than compete with, the national identities in the region. “Nordic” and “Scandinavian” have often been associated with positive meanings and have as such (to an increasing extent?) become resources for commercial and cultural branding, as in the examples of Nordic Noir, new Nordic food or Scandinavian design. In this book we want to examine the appeal and flexibility of the rhetoric of Nordicness. What, if anything, does the different uses of “Nordic” and “Scandinavian” have in common, and are there any particular circumstances or historical periods in which the rhetoric is particularly popular?

Program: Rhetoric of Nordicness
20 December, 2016, University of Helsinki, Topelia building, ground floor, the Russian Room Unioninkatu/Unionsgatan 38 A


Session I, 9.30–10.00

Johan Strang and Jani Marjanen, Welcoming remarks & introduction

Coffee and tea, 10.00–10.30


Session II, 10.30–12.00

Ruth Hemstad, Nordic and Scandinavian in the nineteenth century

Merle Wessel, Nordic race

Pirjo Markkola, Strong Nordic woman


Lunch 12.00–13.00


Session III, 13.00–14.30

Pauli Kettunen, Nordic society

Mary Hilson, The Nordic model

Tom Hoctor, The Nordic model in the UK


Coffee and tea, 14.00–15.00


Session IV, 15.00–16.30

Matti La Mela, Nordic access to nature (allemansrätten)

Lily Kelting, New Nordic cuisine

Malcolm Langford, Branding the Nordic


Even more coffee and tea, 16.30–16.45


Session V, 16.45–17.45

Johan Strang and Jani Marjanen, Conclusions

Discussion on the next steps for the project