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Agamben and critical accounting discourse: Revisiting the Holocaust to explore the life and death of citizens in contemporary society

Conference Paper


Abstract


  • This paper revisits Funnell’s seminal article ‘Accounting in the service of the Holocaust’ (1998) through an Agambian lens to demonstrate the insidious use of accounting as a calculative practice. Since Funnell’s paper was published nearly 20 years ago, much has changed within the accounting literature as well as within the political and economic landscape. Of particular importance is the rupture in the protective role of the State in the neo-liberalist era and the subsequent decline in accountability. Agamben offers a critical, continental approach grounded in sovereignty theory to deal with issues of life and death at the hands of the State as facilitated by accounting practice. Utilising Agamben’s theoretical modes of power (sovereign power and biopower) in conjunction with his forms of life (zoē and bios), the dangerous relationship between the State and its powers over life and death can be reassessed both in returning to Funnell’s work on the Holocaust and by looking broadly over new states of exception including the refugee camp and detention centres. Including Agamben within the accounting literature illuminates the role of accounting and accountability in the wake of contemporary security politics.

Publication Date


  • 2017

Citation


  • Twyford, E. (2017). Agamben and critical accounting discourse: Revisiting the Holocaust to explore the life and death of citizens in contemporary society. Critical Perspectives on Accounting Conference

Abstract


  • This paper revisits Funnell’s seminal article ‘Accounting in the service of the Holocaust’ (1998) through an Agambian lens to demonstrate the insidious use of accounting as a calculative practice. Since Funnell’s paper was published nearly 20 years ago, much has changed within the accounting literature as well as within the political and economic landscape. Of particular importance is the rupture in the protective role of the State in the neo-liberalist era and the subsequent decline in accountability. Agamben offers a critical, continental approach grounded in sovereignty theory to deal with issues of life and death at the hands of the State as facilitated by accounting practice. Utilising Agamben’s theoretical modes of power (sovereign power and biopower) in conjunction with his forms of life (zoē and bios), the dangerous relationship between the State and its powers over life and death can be reassessed both in returning to Funnell’s work on the Holocaust and by looking broadly over new states of exception including the refugee camp and detention centres. Including Agamben within the accounting literature illuminates the role of accounting and accountability in the wake of contemporary security politics.

Publication Date


  • 2017

Citation


  • Twyford, E. (2017). Agamben and critical accounting discourse: Revisiting the Holocaust to explore the life and death of citizens in contemporary society. Critical Perspectives on Accounting Conference