Nordic exceptionalism in the high and low politics of justice-making elsewhere

What is the role of the Nordics in international and transnational criminal justice? 

Illustration: Coulourbox

The research groups Nordic exceptionalism in International Criminal Justice and Nordic Branding are collaborating on a workshop on Nordic exceptionalism. The workshop is open to all interested, but registration is required for catering purposes. 

The workshop will bring together researchers from different disciplines, including Criminology, Law and Sociology. Debates will focus on methodological approaches, theoretical conceptualization, and particular "brands" of nordic behavior in the international sphere; including gender, development, peace, human rights, criminal justice, and humanitarianism.


For more than a century, the internationalization of criminal justice has evolved along two paths, which correspond to two distinct fields of research: one associated with law enforcement and policing, and another with human rights and international law. On one hand, certain crimes with an international connection - organized crime, terrorism, money laundering and tax evasion - are historically linked to national law enforcement, the police in particular, and to street-level crime. On the other hand, specific crimes of international concern – war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and other kinds of ‘crimes of the powerful’ – are associated with the high politics of foreign ministries, and have generated the creation of new international institutions, such as the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and the permanent International Criminal Court.

In this workshop, we will contribute new perspectives on the internationalization of criminal justice by approaching it from a Nordic (branding) perspective. As the Nordic systems are often perceived and promoted as having ‘exceptionally’ positive characteristic such as low imprisonment rates and ‘humane’ prison conditions, questions can be asked about the role of ‘Nordic penal exceptionalism’ and ‘Nordic models’ as part of status-building internationally. By bringing together a variety of disciplines and perspectives on Nordic criminal justice and its connections with other ‘brands’ of Nordic behavior in the international sphere – such as human rights, humanitarianism and gender – the aim of the workshop is to understand better the multifaceted roles of Nordic exceptionalism (or not) in the politics of criminal justice-making elsewhere.


Thursday, 1 March 2018

11.45 Introductions

Kjersti Lohne & Malcolm Langford

12.00 – 13.30 Part I: Nordic ‘exceptionalism’ meets internationalization of criminal justice

Discussant: Malcolm Langford, 

Mikkel Jarle Christensen: The constitution of Nordic criminological discourse: an analysis of Nordisk Tidsskrift for Kriminalvidenskab

Thomas Ugelvik: Punishment, welfare, and prison history in Scandinavia

Magnus Hornqvist: Merging high and low politics of transnational crime governance: the crime of terrorism

Katja Franko: Nordic crimmigration exports: challenging the humanitarian exception

13.45 – 15.30 Part II: Exporting Nordic Brands: International politics and brand alignment

Discussant: Mikkel Jarle Christensen

Sigrun Marie Moss: Representing Nordicity through gender ‘exports’

Cecilia M. Bailliet: Representing Nordicity through peace ‘exports’

Kristin B. Sandvik: Nordic humanitarianism

Johan Karlsson Schaffer: Scandinavian dualism and human rights

Kjersti Lohne: Representing Nordicity as penal humanitarianism

15:30 Launch of ReNEW in Professorboligen

19: 00 Dinner for invited speakers

Friday, 2 March 2018

09:00 Coffee & fruits

09:30 – 11.00 Part III: The politics of Nordic branding: continuities and discontinuities

Discussant: Kjersti Lohne

Kristian Bjørkedal: Postcolonialism from the Nordic Margins

May-Len Skilbrei: The Nordic Model of Regulating Prostitution and the Politics of Transnational Policy: Lessons learned

Victor Schammas: The rise of a more punitive state: on the attenuation of Norwegian penal exceptionalism in an era of welfare state transformation

Christopher Browning: Nation Branding, Nordic Exceptionalism and Policy Transfer

11.00 – 12.00 Lunch

12.00 – 13.30 Part IV: Summary and discussion (closed session)

Discussants: Thordis Ingadottir & Magnus Hornqvist

Publications & project development:

Kjersti Lohne & Mikkel Jarle Christensen 



For more information about the workshop contact Kjersti Lohne or Tori Loven Kirkebø 

Published Dec. 6, 2017 2:10 PM - Last modified Jan. 18, 2019 1:47 PM