What does a passport mean to you?

  • 10 March 2022
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What does a passport mean to you?
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Exactly two weeks ago Putin began the invasion of Ukraine. Overwhelmed and helplessly witnessing the current developments, people around the globe have started to find their own ways of expressing resistance. The way the Russian photographer Nikita Teryoshin showed resistance - burning a passport - sparked a question.

 

“NOT IN MY NAME! Dear friends, as a Russian citizen I’m ashamed, speechless and angry about the mad war against Ukraine started by dictator & war criminal Putin. I want to show my deep solidarity with the people of Ukraine! Praying for your safety and peace!”

Nikita shares on Twitter before listing the image of a burning Russian passport as NFT and announcing that all money will be donated directly to Ukraine.

 

“I took this picture yesterday as an impulse to raise my voice as a visual artist against the war criminal Putin”

He explains. 

A passport represents an official document issued by a government to a citizen, identifying a person and certifying their nationality. It also gives that citizen the right of passage, entry, or acceptance in and through other countries - aka the right to travel. 

A stateless person is not a citizen of any country. Therefore, stateless people are not entitled to own a passport. Those of us who are lucky, have a travel document, and I am one of them.  While I don’t feel any specific pride about my travel document, I know that I’d never dare to burn it. For one, because it symbolises a long journey of struggle before I was able to obtain it and secondly, because it is probably the closest I have ever gotten to a sense of freedom. 

 

Regardless if stateless or not, Nikita Teryoshin’s image is powerful and it made me wonder: 

What does your passport mean to you - if you are in possession of one? 

And, what does a passport mean to you if you don’t have one? 

Answer the question in the poll:arrow_down:

What does a passport mean to you?


2 replies

Userlevel 2

This is such an interesting question. As I don’t know a life without a passport, I honestly have to say that it has no deeper meaning for me. This would be an argument for your first answer choice: Identity. Even though, I would rather call it “Identification” → being identifiable by others which allows me to do certain things. The document it self is not my identity, meaning “who I am”.

The other choice I thought about was “Freedom”. A passport definitely gives you something you could refer to as “being free”… but I would rather call it “Liberty” → “Liberty” is defined as “the right and the power to believe, act, and express oneself as one chooses, of being free from restriction, and having the freedom of choice. It is the condition of having the power to act and speak without restraints.” 

A world without passports might give us more freedom than one where the possession of one determines your personal liberty.

Userlevel 2

I honestly and "sadly" never really thought about this question. Sadly because I take my passport almost as a given, as a German I don't really have to worry about the freedom part of a passport (travelling, visa, etc.) I have come to learn over the past years that that is a big luxury which not everyone has, so I am really thankful for that. I wish, everyone, with or without nationality, could experience this freedom - of travelling, residing and especially peace of mind.

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