Russian Relations

Radical Empathy as a Method for Researching the Migrant Dancer Anna Robenne in Russian Archives


  • Astrid von Rosen University of Gothenburg
  • Eugenia Klimova
  • Olga Nikolaeva University of Gothenburg



Archival activism, radical empathy, Anna Robenne, Russian dance history, migration


This article explores the unlikely collaboration between a Swedish art and dance historian, a Russian amateur historian, and a Russian-Swedish doctoral student to seek out the early career of migrating dancer Anna Robenne (one of her names). The article looks into the activist ways in which the explorers interacted with Russian, Swedish, and Finnish archives in order to both reveal and make accessible cross-border materials and knowledge pertaining to Robenne. To explore the relationship between the Robenne materials, the archival institutions, and the group of collaborating historians, the authors draw on Caswell and Cifor’s notion of “radical empathy”. The article thus brings new archival theory into the performing arts domain and makes a dance contribution to the broader field of critical archival and heritage studies. To cross borders to account for Robenne’s Russian legacy counters previous historiography’s disinterest in following the careers of non-canonized migrating artists in the Nordic-Baltic region.


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How to Cite

von Rosen, A., Klimova, E., & Nikolaeva, O. (2021). Russian Relations: Radical Empathy as a Method for Researching the Migrant Dancer Anna Robenne in Russian Archives. Nordic Theatre Studies, 32(2), 89–105.



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