Nordic exceptionalism – University of Copenhagen

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'Nordic exceptionalism' in international criminal justice.

A strong group of international criminal justice scholars from all of the Nordic countries will examine the notion of ‘Nordic exceptionalism’ in criminal justice at the international level.

By bringing together a strong group of international criminal justice scholars from all of the Nordic countries, the project will not only provide a very first analysis of how the Nordic region has influenced the internationalization of criminal justice, but also place criminal justice exports firmly on the criminological agenda. The project will contribute a highly innovative study of the role of perceived and real Nordic exceptionalism in the field of international criminal justice conceived broadly as the export of criminal law discourse and practices.

The aim of this project is to explore the notion of ‘Nordic exceptionalism’ in criminal justice at the international level. Based on the original qualitative material generated by the collective biography, we will pursue questions such as: Is there an ‘exceptional’ Nordic approach and influence within international criminal justice? If so, what does it consist of, and what can it tell us about the influence of Nordic penal ideas, values and practices as visible when exported to the international level? What enabled the successful export of policies within international criminal justice, and how did individual professionals make us of the ‘exceptional’ brand of the Nordic welfare state?

The project will investigate these forms of exceptionalism at two different but deeply interrelated levels: as policy building within and among the Nordic countries; through the Nordic professionals involved in the export of criminal law and the creation of new internationalized forms of criminal justice. To investigate Nordic exceptionalism at these levels, the project will build on interviews with the very professionals who helped craft national polices and who were at the forefront of promoting specific forms of criminal law expertise on an international stage. It is precisely in the export of specific values visible as policies and new career paths that exceptionalism becomes analyzable as an empirical phenomenon.

The research is funded by a NOS-HS Workshop grant.