Weapons of the weak: subalterns' emancipatory accounting in Ceylon Tea

Chandana Alawattage, Danture Wickramasinghe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – This paper aims to report on subalterns' emancipatory accounting (SEA) embedded in transformation of governance and accountability structures (GAS) in Ceylon Tea. Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws on James Scott's political anthropology to examine how subalterns' resistance and emancipatory accounting triggers structural transformations. Findings – An attempt is made to theorise subaltern resistance as a form of emancipatory accounting. Concerning the commentaries that accounting has been to suppress or hegemonise the subalterns and appreciating the analysis of indigenous resistance implicated in emancipatory potential, this paper examines how a distinct subaltern group in Ceylon Tea deployed their own weapons towards the changes in GAS. Originality/value – The accounting literature neglects how subalterns reconstruct governance and accountability structures: this paper introduces a social accounting perspective on resistance, control and structural transformations. Also, it introduces to accounting researchers James Scott's political anthropology as an alternative framework.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-404
Number of pages26
JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • accounting
  • governance
  • Sri Lanka
  • tea plantations
  • tea


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