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Nordic model(s) in the global circulation of ideas, 1970-2020

The concept of a ’Nordic model’ has long been recognised, and plays an important role in shaping perceptions of the Nordic countries, internally and externally. The concept enjoyed a remarkable renaissance following the global financial crisis that began in 2008, and a decade later it continues to attract attention from various groups and individuals, including politicians on the left and the right in different parts of the world and within the Nordic region itself.

But what is the Nordic model and why does the Nordic region attract so much attention? Our project analyses how ‘Nordic models’ have been conceived, debated and used in different contexts over the last half century. When and where did the idea of a Nordic model emerge? What does the Nordic model mean in different contexts, and how have these meanings changed over time? Just how significant are the Nordic countries and the Nordic model?

In exploring these questions we also seek to address broader questions about the global circulation of ideas and models during the period 1970-2020, when challenges such as environmental degradation, poverty and inequality, racism and populism have altered power structures globally and in Norden. We do this by examining the idea of a Nordic model or models in three areas: North America; Western Europe; cases in the Global South. 

Four researchers are working on the project: 

Nordic Homicide from Past to Present: Explaining Stability and Change in Lethal Violence

The project aims to (a) create a digital dataset which enables compatible analyses of historical and modern homicide, and (b) conduct comparative analysis of contemporary homicide patterns in the Nordic countries.
Combining the analysis of contemporary and historical criminology, the resulting analysis will be groundbreaking for Nordic criminology as it harnesses digital humanities and social sciences to the study of violence.
The project will open new theoretical perspectives in the research of interpersonal violence in terms of explaining homicide booms and busts. Representing hard core historical and social science criminology, the project builds the fundamental knowledge base for violence prevention policies in Scandinavia.

Project team:  

  • Professor Janne Kivivuori (PI), Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy, University of Helsinki
  • Ms Guðbjörg S. Bergsdóttir, National commissioner of the Icelandic police
  • Dr Linda Ferrante, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • Dr Sven Granath, Swedish Police Authority
  • Mr Jónas Orri Jónasson, Reykjavik Metropolitan Police
  • Professor Petri Karonen, University of Jyväskylä. Dr Anu Koskivirta, University of Jyväskylä
  • Dr Martti Lehti, Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy, University of Helsinki
  • Professor Dag Lindström, University of Uppsala
  • Ms Sofie Mulvad-Reinhardt, Danish Ministry of Justice
  • Dr Jeppe Büchert Netterstrøm, University of Aarhus 

Research Network of Urban Literacy (RUL)

This interdisciplinary project is concerned with literacy and urbanity in Scandinavian in the Viking Age and Middle Ages. The main ambition is to shed light on the potential roles urbanity played in the transformation from societies based on orality to societies based on the written word, and simultaneously provide an exchange of methods between different fields of research: History, archeology and philology, in particular runology.

Together researchers from these disciplines will work with key questions such as: In what ways can we define medieval literacy in Scandinavia? How widespread was literacy in different social layers in the towns? How did literacy affect the formation of urban identity? How did literacy and urbanity co-develop? About 35 researchers from museums and universities in Scandinavia, England and the Netherlands are included in the project, which is based at the department of History and Classical Studies.            

Steering committee

  • Jeppe Büchert Netterstrøm, Aarhus University
  • Kasper H. Andersen, Danish Centre for Urban History
  • Lisbeth Imer, National Museum of Denmark
  • Rikke Steenholt Olesen, University of Copenhagen
  • Bjørn Poulsen, Aarhus University
  • Morten Søvsø, Museum of Southwest Jutland 


October 2017 – November 2019


The Danish Council for Independent Research.  Budget: c. 816.000 DKK.

Projects in Danish are displayed on the Danish version of this page.

Shaping Childhoods Through Television: The Transfer and Demarcation of Sesame Street in 1970s’ Europe

This project is concerned with the global and local dynamics that come into play when children's media are produced for a global market and then transferred to a local setting. One particular focus is the challenges that global market products are seen to bring about, because children’s media products often are viewed as playing an important role in their enculturation into a specific cultural (national) environment. The primary way in which I approach this area of research is through an investigation of how the American produced, globally marketed, children’s television programme Sesame Street, was simultaneously appropriated and rejected by national broadcasting companies in different European countries during the 1970s. When Sesame Street came to Europe in the 1970s, it was during a period of social and cultural upheaval where European TV stations held key positions in struggles over national culture. Thus, the exploration of national broadcasters’ roles in the transfer and demarcation of Sesame Street also shows how and why norms, values and ambivalent feelings about American cultural production, especially vis-à-vis children, were negotiated in diverse cultural contexts. This makes Sesame Street's transfer history the optimal focus for an immediate, well-defined and far-reaching project about European childhood and television in the 1970s and 1980s. The project therefore contribute with insights into the differences and similarities in European notions of the role of media in children’s lives and, subsequently, children’s TV’s part in upholding and transgressing national cultures. The project includes printed, digital and audiovisual sources from archives in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Britain, Italy, the United States and Germany.

Assistant Professor, Helle Strandgaard Jensen


The project is financed by the Danish Council for Independent Research and FP7 Marie Curie Actions. Total budget: 3mill DKK.

The children’s ‘68

The global upheaval caused by the protest movements around 1968 revolutionised social structures, overturned cultural conventions, challenged political ideologies, and catalysed civil rights activism by women, gay people and ethnic minorities. Childhood historians stress the importance of this period in altering the authority structures that shaped children’s lives. However, many of the fields within childhood studies driving these changes – children’s media and culture, children’s heritage and art education – remain pushed to the margins within historical master narratives of 1968. These disciplines have had little chance to reflect on their own development, to draw the connections stemming from their shared heritage in 1968, or to trace the historical legacies that have shaped the assumptions underpinning them.

This new collaborative project analyses 1968 as a watershed moment in children’s culture and its related disciplines, following Marwick’s (1998) now canonical definition of 1968 as the crystallisation of the cultural revolution of the ‘long sixties’ (c.1958-c.1974). A team of specialists from cognate fields within childhood studies, including children’s history and media, children’s culture, heritage and art education will pursue this objective, in dialogue with historians of 1968. This new collaboration brings together researchers and practitioners from Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden and the UK.

By thinking about children’s culture as a site for artistic and intellectual experimentation, at the centre of ideological activity across disciplinary boundaries and national borders, this project opens up new ways of understanding the 1968 liberation movements and their legacies. With the fiftieth anniversary of 1968 approaching, it is important that the children’s perspective is finally brought to the fore of scholarly debate and public commemorations.

- Jonathan Bignell, University of Reading, UK
- Cécile Boulaire, University of Tours, France
- Marie Cronqvist, University of Lund, Sweden
- Sophie Heywood, University of Reading, UK / University of Tours, France
- Helle Strandgaard Jensen, Aarhus University, Denmark
- Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer, University of Tübingen, Germany
- Lucy Pearson, University of Newcastle, UK


Le Studium, France, approximately 500.000DKK

The Invention of International Bureaucracy. The League of Nations and the Creation of International Public Administration, c. 1920-1960

Over the last 100 years, the international political scene has become increasingly organized. More than 5000 international organisations now regulate global and regional political, economic and technical affairs. As a consequence international bureaucracy, i.e. international executive bodies that function autonomously from nation states and deal with international affairs, has become an important and increasingly contested feature of world politics.

Even so, the history of these non-elected executive bodies is underresearched. This project aims to shine a light on the roots of international bureaucracy and its particular institutional and socio-cultural characteristics by exploring the principles, practices and formative effects of the League of Nations Secretariat.  With theoretical inspiration from political sociology and based on extensive multiarchival research, the project will explore the institutional norms and practices of the League Secretariat and investigate its exchanges and connections with national diplomatic and bureaucratic structures, internationalist networks and institutions and subsequent international bureaucracies of the 20th century.

Core group
- Karen Gram-Skjoldager, Associate Professor, Aarhus University
Inventing International Bureaucracy: The Creation of Bureaucratic Norms and Practices in the League Secretariat
- Haakon Ikonomou, Postdoctoral researcher, Aarhus University
International Bureaucracy and Transnational Activism: the Disarmament Section in the League of Nations Secretariat
- Torsten Kahlert, Postdoctoral researcher, Aarhus University
Inventing international Bureaucrats: Career Trajectories of British and French Secretariat Employees
- Emil Eiby Seidenfaden, PhD student, Aarhus University
Public Legitimization Strategies in the League of Nations Secretariat and their Legacies
Associate researchers
- Namrata R. Ganneri, SNDT College of Arts & SCB College of Commerce and Science for Women, Mumbai
Indian Civil Servants in the League Secretariat
- Michael Jonas, Lecturer, Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg
German Diplomacy in the League Secretariat
- Daniel Maul, Associate Professor, University of Oslo
The League Secretariat and the International Labour Organisation
- Øyvind Tønnesson, Associate Professor, University of Agder
The League Secretariat and the Inter-Parliamentary Union

This research is funded by a grant of 6.785.734 DKK from The Danish Council for Independent Research as part of its Sapere Aude program.