What makes the Nordic countries Nordic? The terms 'Nordic' and 'Scandinavian' are increasingly used in wide range of political and cultural contexts. Historically they have been associated with political projects and institutions (the Nordic Council), while also functioning as categories of analysis in academic research (Nordic model, Nordic welfare states). Often associated with positive meanings, the term 'Nordic' has also become a resource for commercial and cultural branding (Nordic noir, Nordic design).
The adjectives Nordic and Scandinavian are however flexible and contested concepts that have been used - and continue to be used - in varying, often contradictory and inherently political ways. How has the rhetoric of 'Nordicness' been used in different times and places, and how do we explain its continued appeal? What do the different terms Nordic and Scandinavian have in common, and are there any particular circumstances or historical periods in which the rhetoric has been particularly popular? How do we account for its current popularity?
Through selected case studies, the book provides a historical and open-ended narrative of the making of the Nordic region. This account includes not only the success story of the region, but also the alternative, and sometimes sinister, paths that have been part of this process. It highlights the role of political contingency in region building in a way that is relevant for understanding not only the past but also the future of any region-building process.