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“On duty in pursuit of the natives”: accounting and truth-telling about Australia's frontier wars

“On duty in pursuit of the natives”: accounting and truth-telling about Australia's frontier wars This paper considers how archival accounting records may support truth-telling about past atrocities during Australia's frontier wars.Design/methodology/approachThe study examines two colonial accounting records – military muster payrolls and the ledger statements of a local tax fund – used during the British's punitive expeditions against the Aboriginal peoples of Sydney in 1816.FindingsThe accounting records reveal new information about the full scale of the campaign, the degree to which the violence was formally endorsed and acts of Aboriginal resistance. However, much of the human toll of the campaign remains obscured by the highly structured, monetary lens of financial records authored and archived by the British colonial regime.Social implicationsAustralia's First Nations have called for greater truth-telling about the frontier wars to enable meaningful reconciliation and political recognition of Indigenous sovereignty. This study highlights the potential role of accounting records as a resource for contemporary truth-telling processes.Originality/valueThe study contributes to the literature about the dark history of accounting by explicating genre features in the content, form and context of archival accounting records, which can both render past atrocities more visible as well as perpetrate invisibilities, ambiguities and silences. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Accounting Auditing & Accountability Journal Emerald Publishing

“On duty in pursuit of the natives”: accounting and truth-telling about Australia's frontier wars

Accounting Auditing & Accountability Journal , Volume 36 (2): 27 – Mar 27, 2023

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References (60)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
0951-3574
DOI
10.1108/aaaj-07-2020-4710
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper considers how archival accounting records may support truth-telling about past atrocities during Australia's frontier wars.Design/methodology/approachThe study examines two colonial accounting records – military muster payrolls and the ledger statements of a local tax fund – used during the British's punitive expeditions against the Aboriginal peoples of Sydney in 1816.FindingsThe accounting records reveal new information about the full scale of the campaign, the degree to which the violence was formally endorsed and acts of Aboriginal resistance. However, much of the human toll of the campaign remains obscured by the highly structured, monetary lens of financial records authored and archived by the British colonial regime.Social implicationsAustralia's First Nations have called for greater truth-telling about the frontier wars to enable meaningful reconciliation and political recognition of Indigenous sovereignty. This study highlights the potential role of accounting records as a resource for contemporary truth-telling processes.Originality/valueThe study contributes to the literature about the dark history of accounting by explicating genre features in the content, form and context of archival accounting records, which can both render past atrocities more visible as well as perpetrate invisibilities, ambiguities and silences.

Journal

Accounting Auditing & Accountability JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Mar 27, 2023

Keywords: Indigenous peoples; Truth-telling; Archives; Accounting records; Dark side; Colonialism; Atrocities; Genre; Frontier wars; Silence

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