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Accounting for imperialism: a case of British‐imposed indigenous collaboration

Accounting for imperialism: a case of British‐imposed indigenous collaboration The involvement of accounting in imperial expansion in the South Pacific during the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century is critically analysed. Through a study of archival data, it examines the way in which the practice of accounting became involved in the production of a calculative knowledge of imperialism. In particular, it explores: (a) the processes through which an indigenous Fijian élitist structure was transformed into a British instrument of domination and control; (b) the way in which accounting calculations and explanations were imposed upon the indigenous chiefs; and (c) the way in which accounting, once imposed, was used as an integral part of imperial policies and activities for Empire expansion. The study highlights that before annexation what was previously seen to be just a question of an "American debt" came to be seen as requiring formal imperial intervention. During formal imperial rule, however, British reaction to indigenous resistance to accounting-based administration was managed through a bargaining policy. This change enabled high chiefs to enjoy a "special immunity" through accounting's negotiable interpretations, interrelationships and explanations. Accounting as a financial and an administrative system of accountability thus became an integral part of a British-imposed collaborative system of imperialism. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal Emerald Publishing

Accounting for imperialism: a case of British‐imposed indigenous collaboration

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2000 MCB UP Ltd. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0951-3574
DOI
10.1108/09513570010334900
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The involvement of accounting in imperial expansion in the South Pacific during the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century is critically analysed. Through a study of archival data, it examines the way in which the practice of accounting became involved in the production of a calculative knowledge of imperialism. In particular, it explores: (a) the processes through which an indigenous Fijian élitist structure was transformed into a British instrument of domination and control; (b) the way in which accounting calculations and explanations were imposed upon the indigenous chiefs; and (c) the way in which accounting, once imposed, was used as an integral part of imperial policies and activities for Empire expansion. The study highlights that before annexation what was previously seen to be just a question of an "American debt" came to be seen as requiring formal imperial intervention. During formal imperial rule, however, British reaction to indigenous resistance to accounting-based administration was managed through a bargaining policy. This change enabled high chiefs to enjoy a "special immunity" through accounting's negotiable interpretations, interrelationships and explanations. Accounting as a financial and an administrative system of accountability thus became an integral part of a British-imposed collaborative system of imperialism.

Journal

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 1, 2000

Keywords: Fiji; Social accounting; Race; Discrimination

References