Accounting about I-Kiribati through Protectorate, Colony and Republic
Civilising, modernising and liberalising constitute a taxonomy of pre-eminent policy paradigms of colonial and neo-colonial activities of governmental agencies originating in the Global North. Using Kiribati as a case study, I take a genealogical perspective of power and knowledge and so illuminate how accounting considerations have influenced policies of said agencies during these paradigms. I distinguish several policy phases between 1850 and 2000, mainly framed in terms of the interests of external authorities, and recently framed in line with neo-liberal ideas of what is good for the private individual, a concept not much developed in Kiribati. Accounting also figured in implementing each policy phase, noticeably by helping constitute and reinforce hegemony of I-Matang over I-Kiribati, and is now sustaining organisations that, although they have come to be staffed by I-Kiribati, are of a colonial nature and seem to be regarded by most I-Kiribati as still “belonging” to I-Matang. My study should prompt questions about present-day espousals of accounting applications in the Global South, and inform replications of the study elsewhere there.