New project takes global approach to accounting for Covid-19

Conceived by a group of accounting scholars spanning three continents, Breaking Boundaries: (Counter) accounts during a pandemic – letters for future generations, is a global and multilingual collection of essays, poems, artwork, music, and video. It offers a lasting record of collective and individual experiences of what accounting was like during the exceptional period of the COVID-19 lockdown and its aftermath.

Breaking Boundaries challenges academic practices by reimagining what it means to ‘account’ for an event, such as a pandemic, looking beyond traditional numbers or traditional academic journals. The project sought to provide an inclusive platform for unique voices and art forms from around the world that do not often make it into Western scholarly culture.

Professor of Accounting, Greg Stoner, of the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School, said: “Working on this project has been an emotional journey bringing to light the many different ways that we account for the pandemic and our experiences of it. It has been insightful. It opens our eyes to alternative ways of accounting and accountability. Hopefully the book will help us and our profession breakaway from the past to a more positive ‘normal’.”

The book consists of 63 individual submissions from 107 contributors ranging from accounting and social science academics to business practitioners spanning the globe from 18 countries. Not limited to the written word, submissions came in the form of articles, essays, visual art, multi-media presentations and prose in four languages - English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

There was no constraint on the format, nor the content. This novel approach led to submitted accounts ranging from handwritten letters between two old friends sent during the pandemic, to visual and written accounts of the refugee crisis experience during COVID-19. The aim and goal is to offer future generations a glimpse into the experiences of individuals, their families, and their communities as they were trying to grasp the new realities faced during this global crisis.

Professor Diane-Laure Arjalies, Ivey Business School at Western University) said: “Breaking Boundaries is the story of months spent trying to give each experience, each testimony a place to exist. By collecting and sharing these stories, we hope that history will not overlook all these moments of suddenly stopped and shaken lives.”


First published: 22 September 2021

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