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A thanatopolitical visualisation of accounting history: Giorgio Agamben and Nazi Germany

Journal Article


Abstract


  • The extensive measures taken to destroy a people are facilitated by a complex matrix of interrelated actors and practices, yet there remains an underdeveloped implication of accounting in the wider moral and political imperatives. The purpose of this article is to introduce a thanatopolitical visualisation of accounting history adapted from the work of Giorgio Agamben and Michel Foucault. The theoretical triptych implicates business and accounting in the State-sanctioned financial, political and actual deaths of people. Through reference to Nazi Germany (1933–1945) and the companies Deutsche Bank and Ford Werke, the utility of the theoretical device is illustrated, and silences in accounting are given exposure through alternative accounts. Adopting a close-reading method, the peripheral yet integral role of accounting helped conceal the human cost of thanatopolitical ideology. Beyond the Holocaust example, this triptych is relevant for the exploration of other instances of thanatopolitics, such as war, natural disasters and pandemics.

Publication Date


  • 2021

Citation


  • Twyford, E. (2021). A thanatopolitical visualisation of accounting history: Giorgio Agamben and Nazi Germany. Accounting History, 26(3), 352-374. doi:10.1177/10323732211008671

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85106238138

Start Page


  • 352

End Page


  • 374

Volume


  • 26

Issue


  • 3

Abstract


  • The extensive measures taken to destroy a people are facilitated by a complex matrix of interrelated actors and practices, yet there remains an underdeveloped implication of accounting in the wider moral and political imperatives. The purpose of this article is to introduce a thanatopolitical visualisation of accounting history adapted from the work of Giorgio Agamben and Michel Foucault. The theoretical triptych implicates business and accounting in the State-sanctioned financial, political and actual deaths of people. Through reference to Nazi Germany (1933–1945) and the companies Deutsche Bank and Ford Werke, the utility of the theoretical device is illustrated, and silences in accounting are given exposure through alternative accounts. Adopting a close-reading method, the peripheral yet integral role of accounting helped conceal the human cost of thanatopolitical ideology. Beyond the Holocaust example, this triptych is relevant for the exploration of other instances of thanatopolitics, such as war, natural disasters and pandemics.

Publication Date


  • 2021

Citation


  • Twyford, E. (2021). A thanatopolitical visualisation of accounting history: Giorgio Agamben and Nazi Germany. Accounting History, 26(3), 352-374. doi:10.1177/10323732211008671

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85106238138

Start Page


  • 352

End Page


  • 374

Volume


  • 26

Issue


  • 3