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

A Company Affair

Starting in February 1934, the Manchuria Aviation Company launched a monthly magazine, ManAir. Based on the first issues, the corporation might have intended the magazine for internal circulation. It used ManAir to announce both professional and personal news, from promotions to the marriages of its workers. Soon, however, the pages of ManAir began to document the company's technological innovations, its cultural norms, and its ambitious growth across the Asian continent. ManAir has left us valuable evidence through which we can piece together the history of the Manchuria Aviation Company.

First and foremost, as the company magazine, ManAir developed the Manchuria Aviation Company “brand.” Much like Mitsukoshi's periodicals, ManAir was an exercise in corporate marketing. The novelty of flight made it an object of fascination for Japanese graphic designers in the 1930s and 40s. Looking through this gallery, consider:

What are some of the ways in which ManAir symbolized the Manchuria Aviation Company on its covers?
How do the various mediums—ink, print, and paint—communicate different messages about the company and about aviation more broadly?

One immaterial space within the Japanese empire fostered by ManAir was that of the public sphere. While it remains unclear how widely ManAir actually circulated, it is obvious from the periodical's contents that it imagined, at least, a far-reaching audience. Not only did managers and technicians within the Manchuria Aviation Company write for the magazine, but journalists, scholars, officials, and other professionals from fields beyond the aviation sector in Japan contributed their expertise as well.

Still, ManAir did not demonstrate the freedom of the press. Because the corporation itself was owned jointly by the Manchukuo government, the South Manchuria Railway, and the Sumitomo zaibatsu, among others, it had obligations to support ideologies of the state and capital.

Follow this pathway to explore the various themes of ManAir as it promoted messages of imperial nationalism and mass consumption.

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