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2/5/2007 Passports topic of Linfield faculty lecture

McMINNVILLE - The power of the passport will be the focus of an upcoming faculty lecture at Linfield College.

Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt, assistant professor of English, will present "Unsettling Documents: Reading the Passport and the I-94 as Texts of Entering and Leaving Nations" on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 7:30 p.m. in 201 Riley Hall at Linfield.

When it comes to crossing international boundaries, only one document, the passport, allows either entry or denial into nations. Since 9/11, passports have taken on new meaning, according to Dutt-Ballerstadt. She will examine the passport and attached paper work as cultural documents to show the layered meanings that such documents impose on a migrant's identity and discuss the relationship between possessing a passport and belonging to a homeland. She will also examine the complexity of what immigration officers often look for when scrutinizing a passport and its relevance on identity as the migrant or the foreigner is allowed to enter into a given nation.

"For every migrant or immigrant this potential loss of passport and home, both physically and philosophically, are daunting," said Dutt-Ballerstadt. "The loss of passport symbolically begins to indicate a loss of home and one's disassociation from one's past."

The subject hits close to home for Dutt-Ballerstadt, who was born in India and has lived in the United States for 17 years. She has traveled extensively over the years.

"As a migrant myself, the issue of home and belonging is an intuitive struggle," she said. "It is constantly living and negotiating in between two homes, places, selves, memory and nations."

The talk is based on a book manuscript by Dutt-Ballerstadt, "Reconfiguring Intellectual Migrancy: Postcolonial Interventions, Legal Predicament, Fractured Subjectivity," currently under revision with the University of Minnesota Press.

Dutt-Ballerstadt has been a member of the Linfield faculty since 2004. She holds a bachelor's degree from the College of St. Catherine and a master's and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The Linfield College faculty lecture series offers one presentation each month by a member of the Linfield faculty. For more information, call 503-883-2409.