Prisons and Punishment in Texas

Culture, History and Museological Representation

  • Hannah Thurston

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology book series (PSIPP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Hannah Thurston
    Pages 1-4
  3. Setting the Scene for Museological Research

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 5-5
    2. Hannah Thurston
      Pages 19-46
    3. Hannah Thurston
      Pages 47-65
  4. Representing Punishment in the United States of America

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 67-67
  5. The Punishment Museums of the Lone Star State

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 129-129
    2. Hannah Thurston
      Pages 131-146
    3. Hannah Thurston
      Pages 171-180
  6. The Texan Self-identity Past and Present

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 181-181
    2. Hannah Thurston
      Pages 183-195
    3. Hannah Thurston
      Pages 239-241
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 243-249

About this book


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.


Penology Criminology Museum Studies Museology United States Southern States Criminal Justice Crime and Society Capital Punishment Execution Lone Star State prison officers Sociology Politics Cultural Studies

Authors and affiliations

  • Hannah Thurston
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BrightonUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information