Where does the official passport come from?

More topical than ever: the controversial history of the pass

Some countries sensed the dire consequences of the pass and spoke out against it. They viewed it as a sign of western dominance, explains Mark Salter in "Rites of Passage: The Passport in International Relations". Rites of Passage: The Passport in International Relations). "Although many countries wanted to get rid of the passport, not a single country could afford it - because a few countries wanted to keep the passport." 20th century, including works by Paul Bowles and Joan Didion. It seemed like no one was particularly fond of the idea of ​​getting labeled, wrapped up, and dehumanized from the pages of a passport. But nobody could afford not to have one.

In recent years, passports have experienced an identity crisis typical of the 21st century. They became much sought-after commercial objects, almost like real estate or art objects. In addition to a black market full of stolen and forged passports, some countries have also voluntarily opened their borders to the highest bidders. "When I discovered [during my research] that there was a perfectly legal market for passports, it confirmed my impression that citizenship is a pretty arbitrary thing," says Abrahamian. Malta and Cyprus, for example, are selling citizenships - Malta for more than $ 1 million, Cyprus in exchange for significant investment.

Beyond the 1 percent, the changing global landscapes of new states, changing borders, and discriminatory ethnic politics have exacerbated the problem of statelessness. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, around ten million people worldwide have no official citizenship. These people are often denied passports - and with them their freedom of movement. These extremes make it clear how unclear our conception of citizenship actually is.

In the US, according to US State Department statistics, 18.6 million passports were issued in 2016 alone - the highest annual number ever recorded. On the Passport Index website, you can use interactive tools to compare passports in various ways (Germany and Singapore are in first place in the Global Passport Power and Individual Passport Power areas). US magazines such as "Travel & Leisure" announce the "winners" and "losers" of pass rankings every year. While other countries, like the USA, are now playing with the idea of ​​closing their borders, it is worthwhile to think again about the fundamental arbitrariness of passports.

Depending on the country of origin, a passport can grant you extreme privileges or cause extreme despair. It can be a protective blanket or a heavy burden. In any case, it won't go away anytime soon. However, as our world changes, so must the elaborate guidelines that have shaped the passport into a near-perfect document over the decades. So what will the future of the passport look like?