Passports Were Once Considered Offensive—Perhaps They Still Are | Atlas Obscura

A passport is one of the most powerful documents you can possess. It is also one of the more socially and politically contentious.

The little leather-bound booklets serve to identify us, but they do so in stark, non-nuanced ways that don’t tell the full story of who we are—or may even distort it. They enable mobility but also restrict it, using something as arbitrary as nationality as the determining factor.

Our relationship with passports has always been complicated. For centuries prior to the introduction of the modern passport during World War I, travel documents were generally simple letters of introduction granting special access to society’s elite. They were required of some places, but not others. For a long time, up until the second half of the 19th century, it was legal for a person of any country to go to the French or Belgian consulate and obtain one of their passports for travel. It was a loosely regulated, seemingly…

Source: Passports Were Once Considered Offensive—Perhaps They Still Are | Atlas Obscura

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