Placing the Traveller: The Banal Geographies of Travelling Documents

Matthew Henry


Flying at 30,000 feet the modern air traveller can see the undifferentiated world stretching out beneath them, and in doing so bask in the glow of globalisation triumphant. Yet located in the seat pocket, jacket, or bag there lurks constant, if banal, reminders of the fiction of this perspective. Nestled around the body of the traveller is a mobile archive that aims to embrace the traveller in a network within which the place of the traveller as a traveller is maintained. This paper examines the hidden genealogies and geographical imaginations of these travelling documents. Drawing on examples from the fabrication of New Zealand’s post-World War One passport and permit system the chapter suggests that rather than annihilating place, travel documents entangle the traveller in complex relationships of placeness and placelessness which have long been based on the biopolitical geographies of threat and risk


Passports; Mobility

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