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Accounting for the nation-state in mid nineteenth-century Thailand

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between accounting and the early roots of the nation-state in mid nineteenth-century Siam/Thailand. Design/methodology/approach ‐ First, the paper examines the theoretical inter-relationship between accounting and nationalism. Second, it relates this theoretical understanding to a study of the changing concepts, methods and structures of indigenous Siamese accounting at a time of transition when foreign mercantile influence was beginning to have an impact on the mid nineteenth-century Siamese economy. Third, the paper analyses how these accounting structures and practices came to constitute a socio-political instrument, which contributed to the administrative development of a Siamese dynastic state by the mid nineteenth-century. Finally, the paper studies the ways in which this dynastic state began to promote national characteristics through the use of its accounts to create a sense of Siamese cultural identity. Findings ‐ The findings emphasise the important role of accounting in the construction of political and national identity. Originality/value ‐ This inter-disciplinary paper highlights a general neglect in the accounting literature of the instrumental role of accounting in nation-state formation as well as offering a re-interpretation of Thai historiography from an accounting viewpoint. Moreover as an example of alternative accounting practice, this paper provides an analysis of indigenous accounting methods and structures in mid nineteenth-century Siam/Thailand at the point when they were becoming increasingly influenced by foreign mercantilism.

Keywords: Accounting history; Buddhism; Nationalism; Nineteenth century; Thailand

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-07-31

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