The optics of urban ruination

geographical imaginations

Ishikawa Kōyō

News from David Fedman of a new article co-authored with Cary Karacas, ‘The optics of urban ruination‘, which complements their previous, vital work on the cartographic imaginary of bombing.  It’s published in the Journal of Urban History but you can access it here.

World War II yielded many photographs of bombed-out cities. In this paper we 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 urban Japan: aerial photographs taken by the US Army Air Forces 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…

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