Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

The Technological Sublime

During the 1930s, ManAir devoted many of its covers to the technology of flight. These photographs often focused on the mechanics of airplane propellers and engines.

What do you think ManAir wants to say through these highly detailed, graphic images?
Did ManAir seek to do something more than just invoke the “technological sublime”—that is, feelings of awe towards human innovation? Why?

ManAir's covers offer a glimpse into imperial Japan's "technological imaginary," to use Aaron S. Moore's term (Moore 2013). Certainly, the Manchuria Aviation Company wanted to showcase the technical prowess of its machinery, especially as the Japanese empire mobilized for war. Nevertheless, Japanese intellectuals, bureaucrats, planners, and engineers, including those leading the Manchuria Aviation Company, saw technology as inspiring the radical transformation of Japan at a time of social, economic, cultural, and political crisis. This utopian notion of technology fed into a powerful political ideology of industrial management and social reorganization, or what some scholars, call fascism. ManAir's emphasis on technology demonstrate that the emergence of fascism in wartime Japan was not a reaction against the modern world, but actually a symptom of it.

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