This lecture was given by Professor Paolo Quattrone (University of Edinburgh) and formed part of the New Accounting for the Management of Ecosystems workshop at CRASSH (6-8 September 2017).
Accounting has a long history which predates the industrial revolution and the emergence of capitalism. However, people tend to identify accounting practices with the corporation, maximising shareholders’ value and profits. Going back in history, even a relatively recent one, may help to build a different narrative for accounting. By drawing on examples that range from the Early Modern times to the post-war period, the keynote will try to change such a view of one of the most pervasive practices of our times. Accounting and accountants has historically been associated to issues such as morality, wisdom, ethics and the mystery of the unknown. Going back to history may help understanding how accounting practices can be rethought in contemporary times and provide insights to those who want to engage with its archival sources both in contemporary and historical settings.