A 19th-century propaganda image of (from left to right) Norwegian, Danish and Swedish soldiers joining hands
A meeting of Scandinavian students in Uppsala, Sweden, 1856. Parade marching next to Svandammen.

Scandinavism (also called Pan-Scandinavianism)[1] and Nordism[2] are literary and political movements that support various degrees of cooperation between the Scandinavian or Nordic countries. Scandinavism and Nordism are interchangeable terms for the literary, linguistic and cultural movement that focuses on promoting a shared Nordic past, a shared cultural heritage, a common Nordic mythology and a common linguistic root in Old Norse, and which led to the formation of joint periodicals and societies in support of Scandinavian literature and languages.[3] However, political Scandinavism and political Nordism are two distinct political movements which emerged at different points in time.


Political Scandinavism

Political Scandinavism paralleled the 19th-century unification movements of Germany and Italy.[4] As opposed to the German and Italian counterparts, the Scandinavian state-building project was not successful and is no longer pursued.[1][4] It was at its height in the mid-19th century and supported the idea of Scandinavia as a unified region or a single nation, based on the common linguistic, political and cultural heritage of the Scandinavian countries Denmark, Norway and Sweden. (These three countries are referred to as "three brothers" in the sixth stanza of the national anthem of Norway.)

The movement was initiated by Danish and Swedish university students in the 1840s, with a base in Scania.[5] In the beginning, the political establishments in the two countries, including the absolute monarch Christian VIII and Charles XIV with his "one man government", were suspicious of the movement.[5] The police in Denmark therefore kept the proponents of Scandinavism under close guard. However, when Oscar I became king of Sweden and Norway in 1844, the relationship with Denmark improved and the movement started to gain support in liberal newspapers like Fædrelandet and Aftonbladet, which saw it as a way to counter the conservative powers that were. During the war between Denmark and Prussia in 1848, Sweden (then in union with Norway) offered support in form of a Norwegian-Swedish expeditionary force, though the force never actually saw combat. The movement received a blow from which it never fully recovered after the second Danish-German war over Schleswig, when the Swedish government refused to join an alliance against the rising German power on the continent.

In 1872 the town of Dannevirke in New Zealand was founded by Danish, Norwegian and Swedish settlers. They had named their new town for the Dannevirke, the extensive Viking-age fortification line which had a strong emotive symbolic role for 19th-century Danes and which had fallen into German hands in 1864 – and for whose defence a pan-Scandinavian alliance had failed to be formed.

Political Nordism

Political Nordism was introduced with the Nordic Association which started through Swedish initiatives in 1919.[4] The movement also includes Finland, Iceland and the Danish territories Greenland and Faroe Islands and has an ideological base in Nordic economic co-operation and integration supported by the Nordic Council. It has been described as "collaborative nationalism".[6]

Current situation

The end of World War II was followed by a decade of Nordic integration in which initiatives and intergovernmental bodies such as the Nordic Passport Union, the Nordic Council and Scandinavian Airlines System were created. The Nordic cooperation was however undermined during the Cold War due to the non-membership in NATO of Sweden and Finland. The intensification of the larger European integration (and in particular the fact that Sweden, Finland and Denmark have acceeded to the European Union (EU), while Norway and Iceland have not) is seen to have weakened the incentive for integration on the Nordic level.

Gunnar Wetterberg, a Swedish historian and economist, wrote a book entered into the Nordic Council's year book that proposes the creation of a Nordic Federation. It would deal with foreign affairs, defence at federal level and coordinate economic and labour market policies, but leave most powers at national level. He sees a unified Nordic region as a natural evolution and potentially a major player in the EU and G20. However he sees the creation of such a state being decades away.[7]

In literature

  • The Sherlock Holmes story A Scandal in Bohemia mentions a fictional "King of Scandinavia" whose daughter is about to marry the (also fictional) King of Bohemia, a major protagonist in the story.
  • The hope of a Nordic political union is the topic of a poem by Danish poet Kaj Munk: Norden: Fra hvor Isen kroner Jorden (The North: From whence Ice crowns the Earth).

See also


  1. ^ a b "Pan-Scandinavianism". (2007). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved April 29, 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  2. ^ The political movement of Nordism should not be confused with the racial ideology of Nordicism, which latter considers the Nordic people a master race.
  3. ^ The Literary Scandinavism. Øresundstid, 2003. Retrieved 6 May 2007.
  4. ^ a b c Ola Tunander (1999). "Nordic cooperation", UDA085ENG. In Nytt fra Norge, ODIN - Information from the government and the ministries, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway. See also Tunander, Ola (1999). "Norway, Sweden and Nordic cooperation". In The European North - Hard, soft and civic security. Eds. Lassi Heininen and Gunnar Lassinantti. The Olof Palme International Center/Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, 1999. pp. 39–48. ISBN 9516346901.
  5. ^ a b The Students. Øresundstid, 2003. Retrieved 6 May 2007.
  6. ^ Wæver, Ole (1992). "Nordic Nostalgia: Northern Europe after the Cold War". International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), Vol. 68, No. 1 (Jan., 1992), pp. 77-102.
  7. ^ Wetterberg, Gunnar (3 November 2010) Comment The United Nordic Federation, EU Observer

External links

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