Accounting and subalternity:
enlarging a research space
Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Canada
Purpose – The paper aims to describe the construction of this AAAJ special issue as an exercise in
creating and consolidating social space for innovative accounting research.
Design/methodology/approach – A review of prior literature and the events leading to this AAAJ
issue are used to provide a context for the articles appearing in the issue.
Findings – The paper suggests that accounting research is implicated in subalternity in complex
ways, both through its construction of the subject of research and in its attempts to reproduce
accounting researchers habituated to Western academic norms and practices.
Research limitations/implications – The paper sets out some conditions for innovative
accounting research on less developed countries and indigenous peoples.
Originality/value – This journal issue is an attempt to expand research space by bringing together
authors from different areas of accounting research, as well as a consolidation of vibrant existing
streams of research. The paper introduces the special issue.
Keywords Developing countries, Accounting research
Paper type General review
It is probably only ﬁtting that this special issue of Accounting, Auditing &
Accountability Journal began in what was, at least at the time, the centre of Western
economic power. In 2005, Danture Wickramasinghe and I met over dinner in New York
City. We discussed the similarities between the research he was doing on accounting in
less developed countries (LDCs) and the research I was doing on accounting and
indigenous peoples. While the subsequent ﬁnancial crisis may have shifted the centre
of gravity of global capital, there was no doubt in our minds that New York then
represented the core of something whose peripheral effects we and many other
accounting researchers seek to understand. This AAAJ special issue grew out of our
discussion, and the articles here share a central question: What happens when
accounting engages the parts of our world that are not already fully integrated into the
This question is certainly germane when looking at less developed countries, where
global business interests expand into countries that have so far had little need for
sophisticated accounting systems and audited ﬁnancial reporting. It is also germane
when looking at the situation of indigenous peoples in already developed countries,
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
The author would like to thank Dean Neu, Marcia Annisette, Danture Wickramasinghe, and
Trevor Hopper, as well as the Schulich School of Business and participants at the Accounting
and Subalternity Conference held there in August 2007, for their continued support of this
Accounting, Auditing &
Vol. 22 No. 3, 2009
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited