"On duty in pursuit of the natives": accounting and truth-telling about Australia's frontier wars
- EMERALD GROUP PUBLISHING LTD
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- ACCOUNTING AUDITING & ACCOUNTABILITY JOURNAL, 2022
- Issue Date:
- Recently Added
- In Progress
- Open Access
This paper considers how archival accounting records may support truth-telling about past atrocities during Australia's frontier wars.
The 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.
The 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.
Australia'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.
The 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.