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Penal Tourism and the 'Dream of Order': Exhibiting Early Penology in Argentina and Australia

NCJ Number
Punishment & Society Volume: 14 Issue: 5 Dated: December 2012 Pages: 584-615
Michael Welch
Date Published
December 2012
32 pages
This article presents research on penal tourism.
Aimed at delivering a didactic - as well as a recreational - experience, former prisons have been transformed into museums of past incarceration regimes. That development has become part of a larger phenomenon known as penal tourism. Indeed, visits to famous institutions tap into a timeless curiosity and fascination with the infliction of punishment. Penal tourism also puts on display practices previously hidden behind closed doors, including prisoner abuse, torture, and execution. This analysis builds on previous research at the Argentine Penitentiary Museum and expands to Australia where the Hyde Park Barracks and the Old Melbourne Gaol are explored. Moving beyond mere description, this comparative study considers theoretical implications embodied in the dream of order. Toward that end, the interpretation takes into account both instrumental (power-based, Foucauldian) and expressive (semiotic, neo-Durkheimian) perspectives on the exhibition of early penology. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.