Public lectures: Neoliberalism in the Nordics

Professors Jenny Andersson (Uppsala) and Niklas Olsen (Copenhagen) give two short lectures on the intellectual history of the neoliberalisation of the Nordic welfare states. Wednesday 31 August at 16-18, in University Main Building, room U3032.

The Helsinki Centre for Intellectual History is proud to invite you all to two guest lectures on neoliberalism. The lectures question the idea of the Nordic as resilient welfare states and place the Nordic region in relation to the bourgeoning international literature on neoliberal thought. Both Andersson and Olsen are engaged in the Research Programme Neoliberalism in the Nordics (Riksbankens jublieumsfond, 2020-2025). Professor emeritus Pauli Kettunen has kindly offered to comment the lectures.

The seminar is convened by Johan Strang ( The seminar is open for all and no registration is required.

Jenny Andersson: Neoliberalism from within or without: Historicising the neoliberal revolution in Sweden.

In her contribution Jenny Andersson argues that it is not possible, at least not without important casualties, to understand neoliberalism in Sweden as a purely transnational import, connected to international think tanks or networks. Instead, we need to focus on a history of generations of neoliberal thought in Sweden. This history coincides with important moments in the making of welfare state compromises, from the very early 20th century on. Does it possibly mean that the welfare state was never but a set of fragile alliances? How can we understand the complex play of import and export of neoliberal ideas between Sweden and the international context? 

Jenny Andersson is Professor of the History of ideas at Uppsala University and author of, for example, The Future of the World: Futurology, Futurists and the Struggle for the Post Cold War Imagination (2018) and The Library and the Workshop: Social Democracy and Capitalism in the Knowledge Age (2010)

Niklas Olsen, Leftist Neoliberalism

In the past few years, a new body of scholarship has emerged, which emphasizes the hitherto overlooked leftist origins of neoliberalism. This talk introduces the main contributions to this literature and relates it to research into Nordic neoliberalism. What do we know about leftist origins of neoliberalism in a Nordic context? What themes should we explore to know more? And what are its strengths and weaknesses of broadening the scope of neoliberalism studies?

Niklas Olsen is Professor of History at the University of Copenhagen and author of The Sovereign Consumer: A New Intellectual History of Neoliberalism (2018)