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New book takes global approach to “accounting” for COVID-19

Sep 21, 2021

Breaking Boundaries Image

Conceived by a group of accounting scholars spanning three continents, Breaking Boundaries: (Counter) accounts during a pandemic – Letters for future generations is a book offering a lasting record of collective and individual experiences during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through a variety of multimedia and artistic presentations this multi-lingual work offers a window into lock down and its aftermath, providing a unique opportunity to look back in time to see what accounting was like during this exceptional period.

“As accounting scholars, we believe that providing such (counter) accounts is the very essence of what our profession should be,” said Diane-Laure Arjalies, Associate Professor, Managerial Accounting and Control from the Ivey Business School at Western University. “Our hope is that the book will set an example for future academic projects to step beyond convention and embrace forms of knowledge and emotions that do not fit into our existing molds. We hope that such initiatives will contribute to provide a more inclusive and fairest account of the society in which we evolve.”

Breaking Boundaries challenges academic practices by reimagining what it means to “account” for an event, such as a pandemic, looking far beyond 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.

The book consists of 63 individual submissions from 84 contributors ranging from accounting and social science academics to business practitioners spanning the globe from 17 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.

Breaking Boundaries is the story of months spent trying to give each experience, each testimony a place to exist,” said Arjalies. “By collecting and sharing these stories, we hope that history will not overlook all these moments of suddenly stopped and shaken lives.”

Breaking Boundaries is published under a creative commons license through Scholarship@Western and available on this link: