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.
12019-11-18T17:18:32-05:00Kate McDonald306bb1134bc892ab2ada669bed7aecb100ef7d5fPhotography Goes to War13Manchuria Aviation Company; Kwantung Army; aerial photography; World War IIplain2021-09-28T10:50:30-04:00French Indochina16.0000, 107.0000Siam15.41771, 100.85989Singapore1.3667, 103.8000Sumatra-0.30208, 101.34561941Sakura ChristmasKwantung ArmyKate McDonald306bb1134bc892ab2ada669bed7aecb100ef7d5f
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12019-11-18T17:18:26-05:00Imperial Japan up in the Air34Sakura Christmasimage_header54872021-01-19T09:40:53-05:0043.88677, 125.32461932-1945Sakura ChristmasManchuria Aviation Company
The advent of aviation in the early twentieth century opened up an uncertain and contingent space of the Japanese empire, in between borders that did not so neatly align between land, sea, and air. This new form of transportation superseded earlier networks of ships and rail, extending the Japanese empire westward, from Manchukuo to Inner Mongolia, and beyond.
This module examines how the aerial perspective, as made possible by aviation, helped Japanese occupiers imagine the Eurasian continent in its geographical vastness, and yet how their terrestrial limitations ultimately failed to sustain control over this space. For imperial Japan, the Manchuria Aviation Company (J. Manshūkoku kōkū kabushiki kaisha), founded in 1932, would become the predominant presence over Inner Asia during the wartime era.
The first pathway, Reading ManAir Magazine, delves into the modern spaces created by the Manchuria Aviation Company through its in-house magazine, ManAir (J. Mankō). The Manchuria Aviation Company advertised its services by portraying its technological prowess and geographical reach. The corporation also sold the concept of flight with images of the modern woman and, as the Pacific War intensified, militarized children. ManAir intentionally conflated patriotic duty and its profit motive, using nationalism as a vehicle to drive its commercial viability.
The second pathway, Eurasian Expansion, explores how Japanese air control outpaced its land occupation, as the Manchuria Aviation Company flew farther into the Republic of China and made alliances with Mongol princes. The territory surveyed by the Manchuria Aviation Company was sprawling, their mode of vision, exclusive: besides Japanese endorsements and Chinese critiques, indigenous reactions to these aerial incursions, for the most part, did not exist.
Finally, the third pathway, Technologies of the Gaze, focuses on the seemingly objective renderings of the land produced by aerial photographs, developed in the ‘dark room’ of Japanese imperialism. This form of visual technology both fueled and followed geographical understandings of the Asian continent in the 1930s and 40s.