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Order and accounting as a performative ritual: evidence from ancient Egypt

Ezzamel, Mahmoud 2009. Order and accounting as a performative ritual: evidence from ancient Egypt. Accounting, Organizations and Society 34 (3-4) , pp. 348-380. 10.1016/j.aos.2008.07.004

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Abstract

This paper examines the role of the discursive power of counting, accounting numbers and inscriptions in the creation and promotion of ‘order’ in society. This theme is explored by examining the link between accounting and order in the New Kingdom (1552–1080 BC), ancient Egypt. Accounting is conceptualized as an integral part of the assemblage that formed the heavenly order deemed by the ancient Egyptians to underpin their world. This assemblage brought into a fragile equilibrium a complex set of relations between the gods in the sky, the Pharaohs, their living subjects, and the dead. Any destabilizing of this order was viewed by the ancient Egyptians as catastrophic. Accounting functioned as a performative ritual that constructed coherence and order in the cosmos, on earth and in the netherworld. Accounting numbers were frequently combined with linguistic texts and pictorial scenes in architecture to produce a monumental discourse that made possible the construction and perpetuation of this orderly schema. The paper concludes by identifying the main implications of this argument for the theorizing of accounting.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: A General Works > AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > C Auxiliary sciences of history (General)
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0361-3682
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 03:19
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/19668

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