John B. Thompson
- Columbia University
My project examines bomb shelters and civil defenses built during the bombing of Chongqing (1938-1943) as sites for a new mode of Chinese governance combining emergency government and technical expertise. I analyze the ways in which China borrowed from international discourses on emergency government to institute order and apply instrumental reason to social and economic problems in the 1930s before the extended emergency of wartime. Yet, because of the relative novelty of mass civilian bombing, the state could not face the crisis in Chongqing with expert certainty. My research explains how the state consolidated technological expertise as a result of techno-political relations with Chinese citizens and participation in international discourses on civil defense design.