“Pack of Thieves?”: The Visual Representation of Prisoners and Convicts in Dark Tourist Sites
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Port Arthur, a heritage convict site in Tasmania Australia, sells a deck of cards and an accompanying book entitled “Pack of Thieves? 52 Port Arthur Lives.” This paper explores how dark tourist sites use visual representations and individual stories of prisoners to engage, and ultimately educate, the visiting tourist. A number of Australian dark tourist sites including, Port Arthur; Richmond Gaol; Hobart Penitentiary; Hyde Park Barracks; The Old Melbourne Gaol; and Old Dubbo Gaol, are examined to highlight how different sites represent, and in essence “sell,” preselected prisoners and their stories of incarceration. The paper also explores how visual representations of prisoners and convicts can sell merchandise. However, the desire to capture the convict or prisoner image to sell merchandise has now extended beyond the gift shop and beyond dark tourist activities. This chapter explores the impact of these actions through analyzing what happens when these organizations, which are presenting particular information to consumers that provide selective vantage points, can often sensationalize the reality of incarceration.
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