PhD-candidate | Franziska Westhäuser
Institution: University of Amsterdam, ASCA
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Yolande Jansen, Dr. Hanneke Stuit
Globalisation is often understood as increasing the mobility of people and goods worldwide, whereas it just as much circumscribes the reality of restricted movement of certain groups of people – a doubleness that is manifested in passports and mobility regimes. While the passport is primarily the sign of mobility and travel for the affluent Global North, for many from the Global South it constitutes the materialisation of forced immobility or the experience of borders as technological, modern-day moats. Although the passport is an incisive political tool, it is understudied in its cultural and imaginative dimensions. This project proposes a novel reading of passports as cultural objects conjured in narratives invested in identity-, meaning- and world-making in the globalised present. It hypothesises that passports are at their core narratological devices embedded in various cultural and political contexts, which shape, frame and narrate understandings and affects of origin, belonging and exclusivity. Engaging both narratology and affect theory, it offers an understanding of passports which incorporates both its structural influence and the affectively charged perception of it. Focusing primarily on narratives from and engaging the Global South, the project challenges the perceived naturalness of the passport, which was originally introduced as a temporary measure in the 1920s, as a marker for inclusive- and exclusiveness as well as for ideas such as legitimate access to a territory or the group of people it encloses.