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ANTi-History and the entrepreneurial work of privateers

Peter Secord (Department of Accounting, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada)
Lawrence T. Corrigan (Department of Accounting, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to theorize the social role of management systems and their political connections using ANTi-History. In so doing, it engages with academic conversations around the writing of business history. The paper focuses on subjective experience in the context of colonial privateers and the vice-admiralty court in the Napoleonic Wars era.


ANTi-History is proposed as a theoretical lens to examine the entrepreneurial work of privateers. ANTi-History destabilizes the idea of history as a dominant account of the past and is interested in controversies as to how history is produced. This paper also brings-in Bourdieu’s notion of officialization because historical knowledge is situated in official practices that conceal translations and political strategies that enable actor-networks to act as one.


The controls of the vice-admiralty court not only perpetuated the inherited British class system, but also created versions of reality that came to be accepted as recorded history. This shows that the rules and regulations of the court were not neutral accounting activities. The systems constituted the identity of actors and produced privateer history as a modernist knowledge of the past and officialized by western, white, male, elites.


The “historic turn” in management and organization studies has not been fully realized more than a decade after its introduction. This paper engages with the historic turn by providing a specific exemplar of history as applied to officialized accounts of colonial privateers. Using ANTi-History as a methodological approach also makes a contribution by promoting it beyond a prolonged descriptive phase.



Secord, P. and Corrigan, L.T. (2017), "ANTi-History and the entrepreneurial work of privateers", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 94-110.



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