Introduction: Postimperial sovereignty games in the Nordic region

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Rebecca Adler-Nissen, Ulrik Pram Gad

Benevolence, homogeneity and peace has never been the full story of the Nordic region.
Building on a critical review of myths of ‘Norden’ in international relations theory and beyond
(international political economy, security studies, regional and European integration theory and
postcolonialism), we develop the framework of postimperial sovereignty games for understanding
contemporary Nordic foreign policy and regional dynamics. We shift focus from the ‘large’
Nordic countries to the remnants of Nordic empires: Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and
Åland. On the one hand, these polities struggle to enhance their independence – Iceland even
after becoming a sovereign state; the other polities via self-government arrangements. On the
other hand, the former colonies develop close relationships to a supranational European Union in
their effort to achieve independent subjectivity. Contrasting the developments towards increased
independence and European integration, the article demonstrates the importance of imperial
legacies. Firstly, it challenges Norden as a model security community. Secondly, it questions the
image of a harmonious Nordic welfare model based on equality and consensus in light of the
experiences of Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Åland. Finally, it suggests that no theory of
European integration is complete without taking imperial and postimperial processes into account.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCooperation and Conflict
Volume49
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)3-32
Number of pages30
ISSN0010-8367
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - Nordic, sovereignty, sovereignty games, Empire, post-imperialism, Post-colonial studies, post-colonialism, Greenland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Åland, Denmark, Norway, European Union, European integration, security community, Security, Culture, Identity, International Relations, International Relations Theory

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