Why this book?
Torpey’s book, first published in 2000, is now a classic. With it, he helped open up a whole field of inquiry into the history of official documents and identification techniques that both constrain—and make conceivable—modern society. Here, think of street addresses, fingerprints, birth certificates, credit records, driver’s licenses, tax forms, and visas. For Torpey, the passport, “that little paper booklet with the power to open international doors,” is a window into modern nation states’ interest in regulating movement. For his readers, it is a bracing reminder of how recent those controls are and how habituated we denizens of the 21st century have become to showing our papers.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
This book presents the first detailed history of the modern passport and why it became so important for controlling movement in the modern world. It explores the history of passport laws, the parliamentary debates about those laws, and the social responses to their implementation. The author argues that modern nation-states and the international state system have 'monopolized the 'legitimate means of movement',' rendering persons dependent on states' authority to move about - especially, though not exclusively, across international boundaries. This new edition reviews other scholarship, much of which was stimulated by the first edition, addressing the place of identification documents…