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Shooting Without Guns: The Photography of the Great Tokyo Air Raid, Public Memory, and the Optics of Ruination

David Fedman, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History at Stanford University

World War II yielded many photographs of bombed-out cities. In this talk I telescope between two sets and scales of images that represent the principal frames through which the American and Japanese publics have memorialized the incendiary bombings that laid waste to Tokyo: aerial photographs taken by the US Army Air Force during its wartime planning, prosecution, and assessment of the raids; and the ground-level images captured by Ishikawa Kōyō, a photographer working on behalf of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. By means of a detailed examination of the production, circulation, and consumption of these photographs -- what some scholars have called an “archaeological approach” to images of ruination -- this talk explores not only the visual rhetoric and reality of the destruction of Japan's cities, but also how that destruction is situated in history, memory, and visual culture.

Thursday, May 16, 2013 | 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor