Translatio and Remediation: Aby Warburg, Image Migration and Photographic Reproduction


Aby Warburg’s research on the heritage of Antiquity can be seen as an investigation into the hybrid forms through which it has been transmitted to us. This inquiry into Western cultural memory is constructed by a unique oeuvre, at the heart of which is the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg, the physical library Warburg created in Hamburg, which he saw as a medium for new modes of research. The organization of the library aimed to orient scholars to the modalities of the “afterlife” of the representations and gestures associated with pathos that derive from ancient paganism. We also know that Warburg sought to situate his work in the context of a Kulturwissenschaft—a science of culture seen as a “third” position, above the schism between the natural sciences and the humanities—a position whose horizon intersects Ernst Cassirer’s philosophy of symbolic forms, Max Weber’s comparative sociology of religion, and the perspectives opened by American anthropology as practiced by Franz Boas.

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