A new accountability for the moral geography of gifting relationships



Publication Details

Rudkin, K. M. & Cooper, K. A. (2010). A new accountability for the moral geography of gifting relationships. In H. Yeatman (Eds.), The SInet 2010 eBook (pp. 177-190). Wollongong: SInet UOW.


Extreme poverty persists in the African continent despite substantial efforts by donors of theNorth to alleviate poverty. Northern concepts of accountability both enable the control andevaluation of recipients of donation. It is assumed that recipients are accountable to thosewho provide the aid. It is argued that this relationship inherent in the accounting calculus hasled to an inadequacy of accountability between geographically remote donor recipientrelationships and between states of different stages of market development. Giftingrelationships require a broader idea of stewardship in which both the donor and the recipientare accountable to each other. Contradictory to the rhetoric of neutrality surroundingaccounting, the identity and values of the donor are embedded in the gift, making the giftmore than a commodity in exchange. Instead, the gifting arrangement creates and inscribes amoral geography between donor and recipient. It is argued that this distance is enabled andperpetuated by a Northern accounting calculus. Donor/recipient financial relationships aredifferent to economic transactions recorded in advanced capitalist states. Firstly, there is notequivalence in reciprocity in a donor/recipient relationship as is implied in an economictransaction. Secondly, in applying accounting technology indiscriminately to donor/recipienttransactions, culturally determined legitimate meanings of value other than those constructedfrom an economic perspective are silenced. This paper proposes an alternative construction ofthe value in exchange.

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