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Accounting, cultural hybridisation and colonial globalisation: a case of British civilising mission in Fiji

Shanta Shareel Davie (Newcastle University Business School, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Tom McLean (Durham University Business School, Durham University, Durham, UK)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 15 May 2017

Abstract

Purpose

This historical study explores accounting’s association with processes of cultural hybridisation involving themes such as image-(un)making, alliance-formation and norm-setting as part of Britain’s civilising mission during the era of modern globalisation. In doing so, the purpose of this paper is to examine the manner in which accounting may be implicated in micro-practices through which multi-layered socio-political relations of inequality are produced.

Design/methodology/approach

Archival materials enable an accounting understanding of the historical processes of image-(un)making, norm-setting and formation of a hybrid form of rule through elite indigenous alliances.

Findings

The study finds that the British Empire’s colonial project on civilising the indigenous peoples in British Fiji involved: the (un)making of indigenous identities and their moralities; and the elaboration of difference through ambiguous, partial and contradictory application of accounting in attempts to support the globalised civilising course. The globalising challenges indigenous peoples faced included accounting training to change habits in order to gain integration into the global imperial order. The study also finds that the colonised indigenous Fijians had emancipatory capacities in their negotiation of and resistance to accounting.

Research limitations/implications

The paper identifies avenues for further accounting examination of such processes in the context of post-colonialism and current forms of neo-liberal globalisation.

Originality/value

By investigating accounting’s association with processes of cultural hybridisation, this paper makes a significant contribution by providing the detail on the role of accounting records kept by the British Empire to facilitate Britain’s domination and control over the colony of Fiji and its residents.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Helpful comments and suggestions received from the two anonymous reviewers of this journal are gratefully acknowledged. The authors are also grateful to Tony Miller, David Oldroyd and Steve Toms for their encouragement as well as their helpful and constructive comments on an earlier draft of this paper. Comments and suggestions received from members of the Finance, Accounting, Control and Evaluation research group at Newcastle University Business School were also helpful. Newcastle University Business School provided financial assistance to collect archival data, for which the authors are truly grateful.

Citation

Davie, S.S. and McLean, T. (2017), "Accounting, cultural hybridisation and colonial globalisation: a case of British civilising mission in Fiji", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 932-954. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-11-2013-1519

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited