Thoughtful Gifts for Curious People

License to Travel: A Cultural History of the Passport


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The surprising global history of how the passport has shaped art, thought, and human experience to define the modern world, License to Travel exposes the passport as both an instrument of personal freedom and a tool of government surveillance - powerful enough to define our very humanity. The passports of artists and intellectuals, ancient messengers and modern migrants are examined, in order to reveal how these seemingly humble documents implicate us in larger narratives about identity, mobility, citizenship, and state authority.

Take a journey from pharaonic Egypt and Han-dynasty China to the passport controls and crowded refugee camps of today, connecting intimate stories of vulnerability and desire with vivid examples drawn from world cinema, literature, art, philosophy, and politics. With unexpected discoveries at every turn, from narrow escapes and new starts, tearful departures and hopeful arrivals, License to Travel shares some of our most memorable experiences involving the passport.

Hardback, 248 pages.
Measures 14 x 21 cm.