A critical history of the prison: using the past to challenge the present

Tennant, M. (2017) A critical history of the prison: using the past to challenge the present. In: British Society of Criminology Conference, 5-7 Jul7 2017, Sheffield. (Unpublished)

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There is growing academic interest in the subject of prison tourism, evident in the forthcoming publication of the first large-scale text focusing on this topic (Wilson et al., 2017). One key area of debate in relation to prison museums relates to the way that such sites interpret the history of punishment for a popular audience. Within this literature is increasing recognition of limitations within these representations and the need to explicate and refine these in order to produce more nuanced and critical accounts.

This paper gives an overview of an ongoing project to research and present to the public a critical history of the former HMP Canterbury. The site of this institution was purchased by Canterbury Christ Church University in 2014 and is currently undergoing redevelopment. The University’s ownership of the site presents a unique opportunity to produce a critical history of the prison which preserves and makes accessible an important element in Canterbury’s heritage, but also engages the public with wider debates relating to punishment both in the past and the present. The project engages with the full two hundred year history of the former prison using both archival research and an oral history approach.

There is a focus on the production of wide ranging narratives relating to the prison, as well as former prisoners and prison staff, in an attempt to produce more ethical, multi-perspective and politically aware accounts, as called for by Barton and Brown (2015).

Wilson, J. Z., Hodgkinson, S., Piché, J. and Walby, K. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Prison Tourism, Palgrave: London

Barton, A. and Brown, A. (2015) ‘Show me the Prison! The Development of Prison Tourism in the UK’, Crime, Media, Culture, 11(3). 237-258

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Prison history; critical prison history; critical criminology
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain > DA0020 England > DA0670 Local history and description
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > INCISE: Intersectional Centre for Inclusion and Social Justice
Depositing User: Maryse Tennant
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 10:42
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2017 10:42
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/16335

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00