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Title: Carving the exotic : confinement art in Bermuda (1824-1994)
Author: Atwood, Deborah A.
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
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This study will examine objects created by prisoners in five specific confinement settings in over a dozen different locations in Bermuda; 19th century Convict Hulks, Boer War, WWI and WWII internment camps, and Casemates maximum-security prison. Artefacts will include cedar, metal, stone, and bone carvings, as well as paintings, textiles, photographs and graffiti. These objects were made and used by prisoners to cope with the physical and psychological effects of confinement. Consequently they are deeply personal and emotive representations of the experience of confinement in Bermuda. Many were also integrated into the local tourism markets and given as gifts. As part of the tourism trade these items became iconic souvenirs of Bermuda, and were popular items among locals and visitors alike. As commodities, these objects enabled interaction between the marginalised communities of prisoners and mainstream society. This movement from the private and restricted landscapes of the prison into the public sphere of tourism enabled these objects to acquire meanings and associations separated from their manufacture and use in the prisons and camps. Often these items were kept in family collections and became heirlooms representative of specific family members and histories. As these objects have been separated temporally from their confinement origins, they have become valued as historical souvenirs and embedded within cultural heritage displays and constructions of national identities. These diverse narratives and trajectories have meant that these objects are complex and often hold multiple meanings for a range of people. As all of these artefacts are not only symbolic of the personal experiences of prisoners in the prison landscape, but are also integrated into local constructions of community and identity and international histories of confinement, this study will utilise a multi-disciplinary approach to reveal the variety of meanings that these objects hold for different people. This study will examine these objects as one collection of confinement art and identify how they were made, sold, collected, and displayed, in order to create a picture of Bermuda confinement art over time. As the artefacts are created within very different time periods and associated with a variety of confinement settings and locations, the cultural and social implications of these artefacts will be examined in order to chart changing perceptions of confinement and confinement art in Bermuda. Thus, this study aims to enable a greater understanding of the importance of confinement art to prisoners and non-prisoners, and the role that confinement art plays within constructions of individual, community, and national identities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available