Humanitarian Archeology

  • Francesco Zucconi


This chapter is a contribution to the contentious issue of the origins of humanitarianism, by way of art history and theory. After briefly summarizing the most important changes that influenced the iconography of the works of mercy between the twelfth and seventeenth centuries, it highlights how the types of assistance depicted as part of this theme provide an effective typology for describing and understanding humanitarian communications. The theoretical arguments that give substance to an approach of this kind, beyond any purely superficial evidence, are then examined. The chapter concludes by looking at Caravaggio’s The Seven Works of Mercy (1607). More specifically, it stresses the artist’s ability to represent the state of those who, stripped of everything, stretched out on the ground, express a form of existence that is similar to what contemporary political philosophy has defined as “bare life.”

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco Zucconi
    • 1
  1. 1.Iuav University of VeniceVeniceItaly

Personalised recommendations