Podcast Brunch Club

Passports & Citizenship: Podcast Playlist

This podcast playlist on “Passports & Citizenship” was curated by Kathy Pulkrabek, co-host of the XX Will Travel podcast, which is a podcast for independent women travelers. Kathy is also a card-carrying member of the PBC-Chicago chapter.

As an American traveler, I’ve never really had to think about my citizenship or passport – one has been guaranteed to me by luck of birth and the other was acquired by submitting an application, two photos and a nominal fee. With few exceptions, my citizenship pband passport allow me to obtain travel visas easily and to effortlessly explore the world. But this is not the case for most people in the world for whom a trip abroad is a prohibitively expensive, bureaucratic nightmare. And this does not even take into consideration the people who do not have passports – or even worse, the estimated 3.7 million stateless people who do not even have citizenship.

This playlist explores the concepts of citizenship and passports as commodities, as aspirations and as agents of privilege, mobility and power, as well as the laws that are created to let the “right” people into a country and keep everyone else out.

Podcast Playlist on Passports & Citizenship

*Note: You can always get the latest PBC playlist on the RadioPublic app

50 Things That Made the Modern Economy (BBC World Service) – Passports
(Download on: Apple Podcasts // 9 minutes, May 2017)
Tim Harford briefly recounts how the modern passport came to be and its effect on today’s workforce. He also contemplates the possibility of life without passports and how it would affect the global economy.

Planet Money – Episode 687: Buy This Passport
(Download on: Apple Podcasts | Google Play // 21 minutes, March 2016)
Citizenship has become a commodity, and the island of St. Kitts is cashing in. For a $250,000 cash donation, you, too, can become a Kittitian, entitled to all the benefits that citizenship entails.

Four Thought (BBC Radio 4) – Passports for a Price
(Download on: Apple Podcasts // 19 minutes, January 2016)
Katy Long, who works on refugee and migration issues, contrasts the story of a colleague’s offhand remark about traveling with multiple passports with the experience of a friend, a refugee without a country, who tries to buy citizenship on the black market. This leads to a discussion on how the accident of where you’re born determines much more than we realize, as well as the ethics of purchasing citizenship.

Strangers – I’m An American
(Download on: Apple Podcasts | Google Play // 28 minutes, October 2016)
Lea Thau recounts her journey to becoming an American citizenship by tracing her lineage to events that took place in Sweden in 1945. Thau recounts the positives and negatives to becoming an American citizen and describes the strange middle ground she occupies between her original country of Denmark and her adopted homeland of the United States.

Al Jazeera World – Passport to Freedom
(Download on Apple Podcasts // 46 minutes, March 2017)
When this played this in my podcast app, I was surprised to see it was a film! In the aftermath of Arab Spring, people from Syria, Iraq and Egypt talk about why they left their countries and why they view their moves to new countries as permanent ones.

PBC Podcast: Discussion with Kathy Pulkrabek about the “Passports & Citizenship” podcast listening list:
(Download on: Apple Podcasts | Google Play // 53 minutes, September 2017)
The PBC podcast brings part of the PBC conversation directly to your earbuds. This month, Adela (founder of Podcast Brunch Club) sits down with Kathy Pulkrabek (PBC-Chicago chapter member and co-host of the XX Will Travel podcast), to discuss the podcast playlist she curated for us on “Passports & Citizenship.”

Conversation Starters about Passports & Citizenship Playlist:

  1. Tim Harford of 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy states that passports originated as “essentially, a threat: a letter from some powerful person requesting the traveler pass unmolested – or else.” Do you think this is still true today? Can a passport provide protection to travelers? Do you think some countries’ passports more powerful than others in this regard?
  2. Do you have a current passport? Was it easy to obtain? How does it compare to passports from other countries regarding its power and ease of use? How difficult is it for you to obtain a visa to travel to another country? What is the process of getting a tourist visa?
  3. According to this list, the German passport is the most powerful passport in the world. Where does your country rank on the list and how does that affect how you move through the world?
  4. Have you ever worked in another country? Did you work legally or under the table? What was the process for getting a work visa and other documentation? Did you work with other people who had a more difficult or easier time getting their documentation based on their citizenship or passport?
  5. Has your passport or citizenship ever affected your travel plans? Have either of these prevented your from traveling somewhere you wished to go?
  6. Applying for citizenship is an emotional journey with lots of paperwork and a hefty price tag, even if you’re doing so legally. What is something that would make you contemplate giving up your citizenship and becoming a citizen of another country?
  7. Do you know the requirements to become a citizen in your country? If so, what are they? If not, what do you think they are?
  8. Is citizenship the same as belonging to a community?
  9. What does the future of citizenship and passports look like? Will the trend of closed borders continue? Will we carry paper passports in the future or will we have other ways to identify our nationalities (implanted microchips; retinal scans, fingerprints or other biometrics; etc.)?
  10. According to the BBC, the IMF says that the citizenship program in St. Kitt’s and Nevis was 14% of its GDP in 2014. Other countries are also profiting off of “investment citizenship.” People can purchase US citizenship for US$500,000, UK citizenship for US$2.58 million, and New Zealand citizenship for US$1.06 million. Should it be possible for people to purchase citizenship? If so, should the process be more regulated and under what circumstances should someone be able to buy citizenship?
  11. Katy Long of Four Thought mentions that in 2012, the World Bank estimate 50% of an individual’s lifetime income is determined by their citizenship. Tim Harford of 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy says some economists say the global economic output would double if people could cross borders freely. What are some other advantages and disadvantages of making it easier to cross borders freely to live and work?

DJ RuggedAngel’s Music Playlist

Intersperse your podcast listening with music listening. Our very own DJ RuggedAngel put together this “Passports & Citizenship” music playlist especially for PBC.


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