License to Travel

License to Travel
This surprising global history of an indispensable document reveals how the passport has shaped art, thought, and human experience while helping to define the modern world.

In License to Travel, Patrick Bixby takes the reader on a captivating journey from pharaonic Egypt and Han-dynasty China to the passport controls and crowded refugee camps of today. Along the way, you will:

  • Peruse the passports of artists and intellectuals, writers and musicians, ancient messengers and modern migrants.
  • See how these seemingly humble documents implicate us in larger narratives about identity, mobility, citizenship, and state authority.
  • Encounter intimate stories of vulnerability and desire along with vivid examples drawn from world cinema, literature, art, philosophy, and politics.
  • Witness the authority that travel documents exercise over our movements and our emotions as we circulate around the globe.

  • With unexpected discoveries at every turn, 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.

    Publication Date: 
    September 5, 2023