A colonial social experiment : Accounting and a communal system in British-ruled Fiji

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A colonial social experiment : Accounting and a communal system in British-ruled Fiji
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   0  A colonial “social experiment”: Accounting and a communal system in British-ruled Fiji Shanta S. K. Davie  Newcastle University Business School, Newcastle University, Armstrong Building, Newcastle on Tyne, NE1 7RU, U.K.   0 A colonial “social experiment”: Accounting and a communal system in British-ruled Fiji Abstract   There is now an emerging literature that focuses on accounting practices in colonial processes of imperialism. This historical study theorises accounting’s involvement in collectivistic social arrangements within a colonial regime. It analyses the colonial functions of accounting in British-ruled Fiji. We define colonialism by an official emphasis on the customary in nineteenth-century utopian community-type ideas. The paper focuses on the moments and processes including that of accounting that produced such an expression of cultural difference. Rather than take the communal division as given, this paper analyses the construction of such an identity and the role played by accounting from a  political economy perspective. It examines the complex negotiations that sought to define a utopian communal arrangement that exploited, inter alia ,   the   generation of much needed revenue for the state coffers. Archival documents highlight the emphasis on revenue that led to exploitative colonial labour policy for indigenous taxation and its attendant requirement for exacting unremunerated labour from the indigenous population. The paper also   shows how accounting calculations were indiscernible from exploitative and   oppressive acts of organising indigenous labour for colonial taxes as well as for the collaborating Chiefs’ personal services.     Comment [m1]: Post-colonial theorists will take you apart for this term- What are ordinary natives? Comment [m2]: This implies semiotics Comment [m3]: This structure confuses me because I cannot determine the actors and actions in the four clauses around four verbs... The paper also show…. The labour organisation collaborates with the Chiefs’ personal services   1  Key words: Accounting, British-ruled Fiji, communal system, colonial social experiment, indigenous labour, indigenous taxation. Acknowledgement Financial support for this study was provided by the Edinburgh Centre for European Financial Studies, and by the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne. The author is grateful for the constructive and helpful comments, and encouragement received from David Campbell, Warwick Funnell, Simon Pallett, David Oldroyd and the two anonymous reviewers of this journal.   Comment [m4]: Reconsider the use of the word ‘Native’   2  A colonial “social experiment”: Accounting and a communal system in British-ruled Fiji Abstract There is now an emerging literature that focuses on accounting practices in colonial processes of imperialism. This historical study theorises accounting’s involvement in collectivistic social arrangements within a colonial regime. It analyses the colonial functions of accounting in British-ruled Fiji. We define colonialism by an official emphasis on the customary in nineteenth-century utopian community-type ideas. The paper focuses on the moments and processes including that of accounting that produced such an expression of cultural difference. Rather than take the communal division as given, this paper analyses the construction of such an identity and the role played by accounting from a  political economy perspective. It examines the complex negotiations that sought to define a utopian communal arrangement that exploited, inter alia, the   generation of much needed revenue for the state coffers. Archival documents highlight the emphasis on revenue that led to exploitative colonial labour policy for indigenous taxation and its attendant requirement for exacting unremunerated labour from the indigenous population. The paper also   shows how accounting calculations were indiscernible from exploitative and   oppressive acts of organising indigenous labour for  colonial taxes as well as for the collaborating Chiefs’ personal services.     Comment [m5]: Post-colonial theorists will take you apart for this term- What are ordinary natives? Comment [m6]: This implies semiotics Comment [m7]: This structure confuses me because I cannot determine the actors and actions in the four clauses around four verbs... The paper also show…. The labour organisation collaborates with the Chiefs’ personal services   3 Introduction “This enactment [of the “Native Taxes Ordinance of 1876”] had  both a social and financial object. That it has been financially successful may easily be demonstrated, nor will it, I think, be more difficult to prove that it has equally succeeded as a social experiment” (Gordon, Governor of Fiji, 1879). Scholars of the relationship between accounting practices and forms of colonial imperialism are few. This is surprising given the impact of colonialism on the redrawing of the political map of the world and its cultural, social, economic, and political influence on societies. Davie (2005a & 2000) and Neu (2000a & b, 1999) examined how accounting calculations and explanations reinforced, reproduced and perpetuated colonial structures of power. Neu (2000a) examined the intersection of accounting and colonialism’s genocide acts in Canada. In another study, Neu (2000b, p. 163) highlighted accounting as an imperial process “enmeshed within colonial systems of government” to rationalise land purchases. Davie (2000) explored how accounting and imperialism became mutually constitutive for empire  building. More recently, Davie (2005a) examined how accounting helped translate imperial forms of injustice that denied citizenship rights to the indigenous population. Bush and Maltby’s (2004) paper on   colonial taxation in West Africa and Neu and Graham’s (2006)  paper  that exposes “the mutually constitutive nature of legislation and accounting practice” in Canada from 1860 to 1900 are also important contributions. However, scholars of imperialism have increasingly emphasized the complexity of   metropolitan supremacy in the   colonies (Mamdani, 2000 & 1996; Kiernan, 1995; Thomas, 1994; Mommsen, 1981). The complex variations of metropolitan supremacy in the colonies, offers the possibility of identifying historic interactions between accounting and imperialism.   Comment [m8]: Colonial is the receiver of imperialism, colonial imperialism would mean colony colonising the colonizer’s land… Comment [m9]: What is the difference between Native, Colonial and Imperial taxation Comment [m10]: What relevance is this paper to yours Comment [m11]: Say what? Metropolitan supremacy I presume means London-based power. Does the  peripheries mean the colonies? If so – say so…
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