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Penal Tourism and a Tale of Four Cities: Reflecting on the Museum Effect in London, Sydney, Melbourne, and Buenos Aires

NCJ Number
Criminology & Criminal Justice Volume: 13 Issue: 5 Dated: November 2013 Pages: 479-505
Michael Welch
Date Published
November 2013
27 pages

This article discusses penal tourism.


The resurrection of former prisons as museums has caught the attention of tourists along with scholars interested in studying penal tourism. This work expands on previous research on prison museums in Buenos Aires, Melbourne, and Sydney to include London. The analysis advances a cultural sociology of punishment by throwing critical light on three thematic couplings: prisons/economics; religion/governance; and pain/penal progress. While reflecting on those unifying subjects, the discussion addresses the manner by which prison museums tell a historical tale about their host city with respect to punishment and social control. Observations and interpretations are situated within a growing literature on museum studies, penal spectatorship, and dark tourism. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.