Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Humanitarian Passions. The Survival of Christian Iconography in Contemporary Representations of Pain: a Visual Studies Approach


My research project aims at contributing to understanding the role played by mass communications in contemporary humanitarian crises, through a comparative study of representations of pain in the history of Western iconography.
The main objective is to analyse a corpus of humanitarian communications and identify their models in the history of the iconography of past centuries. Specifically, I intend to study the relationship between the images of contemporary humanitarianism and representations of the Passion in the history of Western visual arts. My hypothesis is that Christian iconography constitutes a database of images on which the media rely implicitly to create situations charged with pathos and suffering and to suggest a moral attitude to the audience.
The qualifying methodology of my work is to compare images from different historical periods. Using the approach of Visual Studies I will be able to increase the knowledge of Christian iconography in the light of humanitarian communications, and to understand the effectiveness of the latter in a direct comparison with the repertoire of the Passion in Western art.
The research will focus on a set of multimedia documents (NGOs campaigns, films, paintings...). The general hypothesis will be developed according to four sub-objectives: 1) To analyse the narrative, passional and axiological organisation of Christian iconography as expressed in exemplary works. 2) To analyse humanitarian communications of European catastrophes. 3) To analyse humanitarian communications concerning Africa. 4) To study Humanitarian communications as re-interpreted by contemporary artists.
This research project is a significant opportunity to advance the European scientific tradition in Visual Studies. Through the achievement of the sub-objectives, I will study the cultural roots of humanitarianism, improving the understanding of communications in traumatic situations and contributing to the implementation of EU polices and practices.


Net EU contribution
€ 173 076,00
54 bd raspail
75270 Paris

See on map

Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00