Niklas is an associate professor at the SAXO-Institute, and Chair of Centre of Modern European Studies, at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. My academic interests address European history in the twentieth century, exploring how political languages and practices are constructed and disseminated in various national and transnational settings. Among my publication are The Sovereign Consumer: A New Intellectual History of Neoliberalism (2018) and History in the Plural: An Introduction to the Work of Reinhart Koselleck (2012). I have moreover edited volumes about themes such as the memory of ‘68’ in Denmark, twentieth century German intellectuals, the challenge posed to Danish Universities by National Socialism in the 1930s and 1940s, critical theories of crisis in Europe and Scandinavian knowledge societies.
He is currently in charge of the research project “Key Actors – Peopling the Neoliberal Economy”, which is funded by the Danish Independent Research Fund and runs from September 2019 until September 2021. The hypothesis of the project is that the endurance of the neoliberal economy can be understood only by exploring the ways in which certain imaginary characters, what we label “key actors”, have been articulated, disseminated and applied as sources of economic knowledge and role models of societal behavior. In other words, we will show how the neoliberal order is peopled, and sustained, by these neglected key actors.
They concentrate on six key actors: the consumer, entrepreneur, bureaucrat, debtor, bureaucrat, and economist, and examine how their discourses have been articulated and applied in economic and political theory, legislation policies, business organizations and think tanks in the Western world. Our project focuses on the Anglo-American context in the period after 1970, which saw the earliest and most significant attempts to articulate and put the key actors into practice, serving as sources of inspiration for governments and institutions throughout the Western world.
Niklas Olsen and Daniel Zamora, 2019, How Decades of Neoliberalism Led to the Era of Right Wing Populism, the Jacobin.
Niklas Olsen (interviewed by Daniel Zamora), 2019, How Neoliberalism Invented Democracy, the Jacobin.
Niklas Olsen, 2018, The Sovereign Consumer: A New Intellectual History of Neoliberalism, Palgrave Macmillan.
Niklas Olsen, 2016, Velfærdsstatens krise og neoliberalismens indtog i Danmark i 1970erne, Slagmark: Tidsskrift for Idéhistorie, 74, 119-138.
Niklas Olsen, Welfare State Criticism in 1970s Denmark, in David Heidenblad Larsson, Niklas Olsen, Johan Östling (eds.), Histories of Knowledge in Postwar Scandinavia (forthcoming).
Jacob Jensen & Niklas Olsen, eds., 2016, “Theme Issue: Neoliberalism”, Slagmark: Tidsskrift for Idéhistorie.
Niklas Olsen, 2014, A Second-Hand Dealer in Ideas: Christian Gandil and Scandinavian Configurations of European Neoliberalism, 1945-1970, in Hagen Schulz-Forberg & Niklas Olsen, eds., Re-Inventing Western Civilisation: Transnational Reconstructions of Liberalism in Europe in the Twentieth Century, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 137-167.
Hagen Schulz-Forberg & Niklas Olsen, eds., 2014, Re-Inventing Western Civilisation: Transnational Reconstructions of Liberalism in Europe in the Twentieth Century, Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Jeppe Nevers & Niklas Olsen, 2015, Liberalism and the Welfare State: The Danish Case in a European Perspective, in Anselm Doering-Manteuffel & Jörn Leonhard, eds., Liberalism in the Twentieth Century, Franz Steiner Verlag, 239-270.
Jeppe Nevers, Niklas Olsen & Casper Sylvest, eds., 2013, Dansk liberalisme i internationalt perspektiv, Syddansk Universitetsforlag.
Niklas Olsen, 2013, Liberalismens revitalisering og afkulturalisering i Danmark, 1945-1970, in Jeppe Nevers, Niklas Olsen & Casper Sylvest, eds., Dansk liberalisme i internationalt perspektiv, Syddansk Universitetsforlag, 221-246.