Critical Punishment Memorialization in Canada
- 691 Downloads
Recent criminological scholarship on penal history museums has shown how sites of popular culture tend to silence the voices of prisoners and present them in ways that legitimate the deprivation of their liberty. While representations that reinforce the penal status quo are observable at most Canadian penal history sites, there are outliers that situate imprisonment as a form of oppression, and account for prisoners’ struggles and resistance. Drawing on three case studies from a 5-year qualitative research project on Canadian lock-up, jail, prison and penitentiary museums, we discuss what critical punishment memorialization looks like in a context of penal intensification in Canada. We show how such critical representations depend on the historical contextualization of penality as a manifestation of colonialism and/or the incorporation of prisoners’ voices and standpoint. We argue that the critical representations and narratives at these museum sites open up possibilities for the social distance between penal spectators and the incarcerated to be diminished by bringing humanizing prisoner narratives into focus in an otherwise dark tourist space.
KeywordsSocial Distance Corporal Punishment Solitary Confinement Information Panel Museum Staff
This study was produced as part of the Carceral Cultures (CC) research initiative (www.carceralcultures.ca) led by Justin Piché and Kevin Walby, which aims to generate knowledge about Canada’s culture of punishment that informs and gives meaning to penal policies and practices. The project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Grant No. 430-2012-0447). The authors would like to thank CC research team members Catherine Giguère, Adina Ilea and Alex Luscombes for their respective involvement during the data collection phase of this study and photography at La Prison-des-Patriotes, the Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives, and the Duck Lake Regional Interpretive Centre. We also thank the Editor in Chief and anonymous reviewers of this journal for their constructive feedback on earlier versions of this paper.
- Brown, M. (2009). The culture of punishment: Prison, society, and spectacle. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
- Davis, A. Y. (2003). Are prisons obsolete? New York: Seven Stories Press.Google Scholar
- Duck Lake Regional Interpretive Centre. (2010). The Willow Cree version of the Duck Lake Battle. Retrieved from http://www.dlric.org/indian_version_battle.html.
- Erikson, K. (1976). Everything in its path: Destruction of community in the Buffalo Creek flood. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
- McNair, A. (2012). The captive public: Media representations of the police and the (il)legitimacy of police power. San Diego: University of Southern California.Google Scholar
- Mendenhall, A. (2010). Moundsville Penitentiary reconsidered: Second thoughts on hyperreality at a small town prison tour. Libertarian Papers, 2(1), 1–11.Google Scholar
- Naidu, M. (2013). Anthropology and experience: Touring the past at Robben Island. Journal of Human Ecology, 43(1), 51–60.Google Scholar
- Peel Art Gallery Museum + Archives [PAMA]. (2012). Peel county jail. Retrieved from http://www.pama.peelregion.ca/en/aboutpama/peelcountyjail.asp.
- Peel Art Gallery Museum +Archives [PAMA]. (2013). Art from the inside out show opening. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151650536874134.1073741836.29570344133&type=3.
- Piché, J. (forthcoming). Playing the "treasury card" to contest prison expansion: Lessons from a public criminology campaign. Social Justice, 41(3).Google Scholar
- Presser, L., & Sandberg, S. (forthcoming). Research strategies for narrative criminology. In J. Miller & W. Palacios (Eds.), Advances in criminological theory: The value of qualitative research for advancing criminological theory. Piscataway: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
- Regener, S. (2003). Criminological museums and the visualization of evil. Crime, History & Societies, 7(1), 1–12.Google Scholar
- Shrimpton, T. (1999). The search for almighty voice. Humboldt: Gopher Books.Google Scholar
- Sim, J. (2009). Punishment and prisons: Power and the carceral state. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Stake, R. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
- Walby, K., & Piché, J. (2011). The polysemy of punishment memorialization: Dark tourism and Ontario’s penal history museums. Punishment & Society, 13(4), 451–472.Google Scholar
- Walby, K., & Piché, J. (forthcoming A). Carceral retasking and the work of historical societies at decommissioned lock-ups, jails and prisons in Ontario. In K. M. Morin & D. Moran (Eds.), Historical geographies of prisons: Unlocking the usable carceral past. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Walby, K., & Piché, J. (forthcoming B). Making meaning out of punishment: Penitentiary, prison, jail and lock-up museums in Canada. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice.Google Scholar
- Walby, K., & Piché, J. (forthcoming C). Staged authenticity in penal history sites across Canada. Tourist Studies, 15(3).Google Scholar
- Wherry, A. (2009). What he was talking about when he talked about colonialism. Maclean’s. Retrieved October 1, from http://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/what-he-was-talking-about-when-he-talked-about-colonialism/.
- Yin, R. (2003). Case study research: Design and methods. London: Sage.Google Scholar