License to travel: A cultural history of the passport

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Discover 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. Patrick Bixby examines the passports of artists and intellectuals, ancient messengers and modern migrants to reveal how these seemingly humble documents implicate us in larger narratives about identity, mobility, citizenship, and state authority. This concise cultural history: • Takes the reader on a captivating journey from pharaonic Egypt and Han-dynasty China to the passport controls and crowded refugee camps of today. • Connects intimate stories of vulnerability and desire with vivid examples drawn from world cinema, literature, art, philosophy, and politics. • Highlights the control that travel documents have over our bodies as we move around the globe. 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherUniversity of California Press
Number of pages231
ISBN (Electronic)9780520976276
ISBN (Print)9780520375857
StatePublished - Oct 25 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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