We have two Politics majors, a Geography major and a History major.

We began by thinking about the strength, or weakness, of evidence for accepted Historical “truths”, then more generally, the epistemic constraints involved in studying the past.
We then discussed the Peace of Westphalia of 1648; a series of treatises that established peace in Europe. It is taken to represent the first international acknowledgement of the principle of state sovereignty.
It led us to the topic of Eurpoean conflicts and the resulting border changes and negotiations. We then discussed theories of the border and the nature of international boundaries.


Over the weekend, I thought about how we might combine our ideas and disciplinary perspectives around the theme: “Document”.
Passports are documents that record an individual’s national identity.
They lie on the intersection of politics and geography, and have a rich history.
The need for passports developed as nation states became more established in Europe, and travel became increasingly common and recorded.

A brief history of the passport:

An English passport from 1598, signed by Elizabeth I:

One thought on “Passports

  1. Hi George,

    The idea of passport-as-document is another interesting example, tied up as it is with the notion and function of borders generally speaking, and conferring (or not conferring) privileges of mobility. It might be worth thinking about the relationship between, say, state-level political conflict and the ability of individuals to move between those states during or after such conflict.

    As I mentioned on Jozef’s post, however, much of this will depend on how we can hone in on a specific research question, which will ultimately be the main guide for seeing what examples and issues can be researched specifically. But this is certainly an interesting idea.

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