Keep Calm and Carry On: Airmindedness and Mass Mobilization during the War of Resistance

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Japanese air raids and the Chinese response to them have been studied primarily in the context of Chongqing, the wartime capital, but air defense was a nationwide project, which is best understood in relation to interwar ideas about airmindedness. The combination of pre-war attempts to spread foreign ideas about air defense with the experience of Japanese attacks had a great impact on mass mobilization. The Nationalist government used successful air defense in domestic propaganda as an example of the success of the Chinese war effort and in international propaganda as proof of both the sufferings of the Chinese people under Japanese imperialism and China’s viability as a modern military ally.

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War was a major aspect of Shanghai history in the first half of the twentieth century. Yet, because of the particular political and territorial divisions that segmented the city, war struck only in Chinese-administered areas. In this paper, I examine the fate of the Zhabei district, a booming industrious area that came under fire on three successive occasions. Whereas Zhabei could be construed as a success story—a rag-to-riches, swamp-to-urbanity trajectory—the three instances of military conflict had an increasingly devastating impact, from shaking, to stifling, to finally erase Zhabei from the urban landscape. This area of Shanghai experienced the first large-scale modern warfare in an urban setting. The 1927 skirmish established the pattern in which the civilian population came to be exposed to extreme forms of violence, was turned overnight into a refugee population, and lost all its goods and properties to bombing and fires.
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  • Hu
“A Whole Nation Walking: The ‘Great Retreat’ in the War of Resistance, 1937-1945.”
  • Liu
  • Jordan
  • Laughlin
“The Rural and Urban at War: Invasion and Reconstruction in China during the Anti-Japanese War of Resistance.”
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  • Schoppa
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  • Zhuang
“Bombs Don’t Discriminate? Class, Gender, and Ethnicity in the Air-Raid-Shelter Experiences of the Wartime Chongqing Population.”
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“Orphans in the Family: Family Reform and Children’s Citizenship during the Anti-Japanese War, 1937-1945.”
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  • Lipkin