Second Nordic Challenges Conference: CALL EXTENDED!

The Second Nordic Challenges Conference: Narratives of uniformity and diversity (#CENS2018) will be in Helsinki 7‒9 March 2018.

Welcome to the Second Nordic Challenges Conference arranged by the Centre for Nordic Studies (CENS) at the University of Helsinki in collaboration with UiO:Nordic. It is an international cross-disciplinary conference, gathering scholars from the humanities, social sciences and beyond under a wider umbrella of Norden-related study and research. The language of the conference is English. The conference is the follow up to Global Challenges ‒ Nordic Experiences  arranged by UiO:Norden at the University of Oslo in March 2017.

The conference is a response to an articulated need for new research on the Nordic region and its global relations, and to promote debate on current challenges facing the Nordic societies. The conference theme is narratives of uniformity and diversity

We invite all individual scholars as well as research groups from any discipline working with themes connected to the Nordic societies and cultures.

Dates: 7‒9 March 2018

Place: University of Helsinki, Main building


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


The proposals can be single papers, single sessions (3-4 papers), double sessions (6-8 papers), or a panel discussion/round-table. The duration of a single session is 1,5 h.

The abstracts shall be written in English, and include:

  • The title of the theme it refers to.
  • A short summary of the main idea of your proposal. If accepted for presentation at the conference this will appear in the conference program. Absolute limit of 30 words.
  • A concise description of the proposal. This will be used to evaluate and place your work in the appropriate session. Recommended length 150-200 words.

Abstracts can be submitted here:

The deadline for the call is extended to 31 October.


For more information: