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Epilogue: So Where Do We Go from Here?

This book has offered many conclusions, but wherever there are answers there will always be more questions. Looking to the future it is my belief that we—as cultural criminologists of punishment—still have much to achieve. For example, I was unable to explore the silences within the memories Texas uses to speak about its history. Looking back over those stories, whether it’s the Alamo defenders, the cowboy, or the pioneer, the Texan character is generally depicted using an Anglo-identity; these are white, male memories. Future work could (and in my opinion should) examine how depiction of race and gender are used within the constructed image of Texanicity. Questions about who is forgotten, why they are forgotten, how they are forgotten and what this cultural forgetting tells us about Texanicity and its relationship with punishment remain unanswered. Clemons (2008) agrees that Texas continues to be branded with reference to this image of an Anglo-man. Criminologists could explore the ways in which each new (re) presentation of Texanicity (be it J. R. Ewing from Dallas, Hank Hill from King of the Hill, or Sergeant Walker from Walker, Texas Ranger) reinforce the character of Texanicity with reference to whiteness and maleness but also toughness, boldness and a willingness to engage in combat.

In addition, it would be interesting to explore Texas as a place of cultural confluence. While the Texan self-identity may be (represented as white and male, and Texan culture may be (re)presented as Western or somehow unique, that is not to suggest that there is—in reality—a homogeneous Texan identity or Texan culture; quite the reverse is true. The Texan reality is more accurately a cultural complex of self-identities. Texas is a Western state and a Southern state which views itself as somehow separate, but how the US-Mexico border likewise plays a role in constructing a diverse cultural dynamic which is unlikely to be found elsewhere was beyond the scope of this research. Texas is the only state that can claim locational authenticity to be Western, Southern, border and somehow separate. Texas is where these four culturally and historically inflected elements of identity meet and mesh.

Staying with this idea that culturally managed histories play a part in identity construction, and that collective identities might help us understand punishments preferences, I would suggest that future research on cultural memories could be undertaken by those punishment scholars who focus on writing histories of the present. Researchers who have already discussed at length the institution of slavery or the practice of lynching seem well placed to contemplate the memories of these actions and events as they are (re)presented in historical tourist sites. Within the sociology of punishment we seem to continually recall the realities of the Southern past (primarily lynching and slavery), while simultaneously neglecting that which is culturally remembered and forgotten in the Southern present.

Finally, it goes without saying that there are tourist sites all over the world that tell stories not only about punishment, but also crime, specific criminals and policing. Any of these sites are repositories of data for the cultural researcher, waiting to be excavated by scholars and students wanting to gain an alternative perspective on the cultural life of criminal justice. As universities become stricter about what (and who) can be researched, tourist sites provide a fantastic opportunity to study both crime and its control. Criminologists should take tourism seriously, because by embracing the cultural memories alongside the fac?tual histories we will gain a more nuanced understanding of why places (and in turn why people) do what they do. Tourist sites are the places in which collectives are telling their stories; we just need to be ready to listen.

Reference

Clemons, L. 2008. Branding Texas: Performance culture in the lone star state. Austin: University of Texas Press.

 
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