Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian HistoryMain MenuGet to Know the SiteGuided TourShow Me HowA click-by-click guide to using this siteModulesRead the seventeen spatial stories that make up Bodies and Structures 2.0Tag MapExplore conceptsComplete Grid VisualizationDiscover connectionsGeotagged MapFind materials by geographic locationLensesCreate your own visualizationsWhat We LearnedLearn how multivocal spatial history changed how we approach our researchAboutFind information about contributors and advisory board members, citing this site, image permissions and licensing, and site documentationTroubleshootingA guide to known issuesAcknowledgmentsThank youDavid Ambaras1337d6b66b25164b57abc529e56445d238145277Kate McDonald306bb1134bc892ab2ada669bed7aecb100ef7d5fThis project was made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
12019-11-18T17:18:25-05:00Conclusion: The Next Frontier44Manchuria Aviation Companyplain48972021-09-28T10:52:17-04:0043.88677, 125.3246Manchukuo1941Sakura ChristmasManchuria Aviation CompanyManAir
Imperial Japan saw the air as the next frontier of expansion, or as succinctly summarized by this Manchuria Aviation Company advertisement, to “Conquer Big Sky!” The corporate magazine ManAir reflected this ideology of spatial dominance by technological advancement, with its covers featuring images of complex machinery and geopolitical emblems. The traveling woman and the militarized child also emerged as symbolic figures of the aerial modern.
The advent of the airplane generated new spaces of collaboration and contestation in the twentieth century, one that challenged the terrestrial boundaries of imperial and national states. Through the Manchuria Aviation Company, Japan sought alliances with Germany and Italy, as well as rivalries with the United States and the Soviet Union, at the expense of Chinese and Mongol sovereignty on the ground.
In bringing the land increasingly under an ocular occupation, the aerial perspective produced compelling spatial and temporal representations of Inner Asia. The view from above held a revelatory power of instantaneous knowledge, leading those involved in the enterprise to believe that they had achieved a most powerful convergence between sight and knowledge for the empire to date. Certainly, the halting advance of the Manchuria Aviation Company demonstrated the possible extent of reconnaissance from the sky, where thousands of aerial photographs might point to a panoptic fixation of imperial Japan. Mapping and measuring the terrain, plotting points to coordinates on a putatively universal grid, these pursuits meant another level of scientific entrenchment where the land could not escape the purview of trigonometric calculation. And yet, these photographs themselves sit in archives as forgotten “moments” and collect dust.
Nevertheless, their tangible legacies remain. Monuments to colonial development built upon felled forests and barren earth stand as an enduring, though ambivalent testament to the technological imaginary, the realm of possibility for empire opened up by the view from above. By war's end, as the modules by David Fedman and Michitake Aso demonstrate, the view from above took on new significance throughout Asia, from incendiary bombs in China and Japan to biological warfare in Korea and Vietnam. It was a different, far more destructive meaning.