Conclusion: Place Annihilation
What ultimately emerges from an effort to read the bombardiers 30,000 ft. view of abstract enemy space against the corporeality of a cameraman on the ground is a greater appreciation to the nested scales of urban space. From physical topography to metropolitan districts to neighborhoods to families, the different scales of the built environment were of keen interest to war planners and metropolitan police alike. It is precisely for this reason that a “deep-mapping” approach adds new texture to our understanding of the spatial dimensions of aerial bombardment. By allowing readers to seamlessly move between modules and explore narratives of the incendiary bombings through multiple, overlapping themes, new notions of scale emerge.
This approach holds potential not simply for understanding the militarized visions or civilian experiences of aerial warfare, but for probing the nature of total war more generally. The Great Tokyo Air raid was but one calamity of many. This module, as such, is connected—through materials, knowledge networks, and modes of production—through many other arenas of conflict and hardship. While the Great Tokyo Air Raid stands as an illuminating lens into the ethical erosion and dehumanization of the enemy other that were part and parcel of total war, much work remains to situate its destruction in a transnational context. Anyone interested in the global experience of air raids during WWII would do well to consider exploring transnational resonances through the Bodies and Structures platform: a toolkit that holds tremendous potential for excavating meaning from the ruins of total war.