This book explores the identity of Texas as a state with a large and severe penal system. It does so by assessing the narratives at work in Texas museums and tourist sites associated with prisons and punishment. In such cultural institutions, complex narratives are presented, which show celebratory stories of Texan toughness in the penal sphere, as well as poignant stories about the witnessing of executions, comical stories that normalize the harsher aspects of Texan punishment, and presentations about prison officers who have lost their lives in the war on crime. In analysing these representations, the book shows that Texan history plays an important role in the production of Texan self-identity, and that to understand the Texan commitment to harsh punishment we must be prepared to focus on Texan myths and memories.
Prisons and Punishment in Texas draws on diverse interdisciplinary work, including criminology, cultural studies about Southern values, as well as research on cultural memory and dark tourism. Museums are shown to be under-researched sites of criminological significance, which offer rich evidence through which penal imaginaries and the cultural role of punishment can be explored. The book will be of great interest to criminologists as well as scholars of sociology, cultural studies, museum studies and politics.
About the Author
Hannah Thurston is Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Brighton, UK. She was awarded her PhD from the University of Kent in 2014. She researches museological representations of both punishment and policing.
Table of ContentsIntroduction.- Part I. Setting the Scene for Museological Research.- Chapter 1. The Significance of Stories in Museum Research.- Chapter 2. Becoming a Texas Tourist.- Chapter 3. Telling Tales About a 'Tough Texas'.- Part II. Representing Punishment in the United States of America.- Chapter 4. Emotionality and Cultural Stories of (In)justice.- Chapter 5. The Cultural Life of Punishment in the Southern States.- Chapter 6. Narrative Possibilities in Cultural Life Research.- Part III. The Punishment Museums of the Lone Star State.- Chapter 7. Museum Stories of a Distinctly Tough Texas.- Chapter 8. Depicting Modern Punishment as Civilised Punishment.- Chapter 9. A Narrative Journey Through Inmate Identities.- Part IV. The Texan Self-Identity Past and Present.- Chapter 10. 'Texanicity' and its Punishment Dimensions.- Chapter 11. Texan Toughness and Lone Star Memories: The Alamo and the Old West.- Chapter 12. Re-imaging Texas as a Place of Harsh Punishment.- Epilogue.