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Publication Date

1999

Abstract

This study examines the historical usage of accounting as a technology of government within the domain of government-indigenous peoples relations in Canada. Our thesis is that accounting was salient within the chain of circumstances that influenced the discovery/identification of indigenous peoples as a governable population. By the 1830s, accounting techniques had come to occupy a central place in the military machinery of empire. When the cost-cutting and reformist sentiments prevalent in Britain during the early 1800s encouraged the reconsideration of the military costs of empire, accounting techniques were one of the methods used in the attempt to interrogate military expenditures. Partially as a result of these interrogations, indigenous peoples came to be identified as a site for cost cutting by British bureaucrats. However, it was at the level of the colonial administration in the Upper and Lower Canadas that the competing demands of "government" encouraged indigenous peoples to be viewed as a potential site for government. And it was once this "discovery" was made that accounting and other techniques were utilized in the attempt to turn indigenous peoples into a governable population. This study contributes to our understanding of accounting by documenting the ways in which techniques such as accounting were central to the military machinery of empire and British imperialism. The study also contributes to our understanding of the historical antecedents that shape current-day usages of accounting as a technology of government within the domain of government-First Nations relations.

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