An Irreverent History of Travel
This witty personal and cultural history of travel from the perspective of a Third World-raised woman of color, Airplane Mode, asks: what does it mean to be a joyous traveler when we live in the ruins of colonialism, capitalism and climate change?
The conditions of travel have long been dictated by the color of passports and the color of skin.
The color of one’s skin and passport have long dictated the conditions of travel. For Shahnaz Habib, travel and travel writing have always been complicated pleasures. Habib threads the history of travel with her personal story as a child on family vacations in India, an adult curious about the world, and an immigrant for whom roundtrips are an annual fact of life. Tracing the power dynamics that underlie tourism, this insightful debut parses who gets to travel, and who gets to write about the experience.
Threaded through the book are inviting and playful analyses of obvious and not-so-obvious travel artifacts: passports, carousels, bougainvilleas, guidebooks, trains, the idea of wanderlust itself. Together, they tell a subversive history of travel as a Euro-American mode of consumerism—but as any traveler knows, travel is more than that. As an immigrant whose loved ones live across continents, Habib takes a deeply curious and joyful look at a troubled and beloved activity.