Individuals and institutions are increasingly called upon to 'give an account' of themselves. Building on the vibrant discussion on audit culture, we invite papers that investigate—ethnographically, theoretically, ethically—existing and emergent practices and performances of accountability.
This panel offers the opportunity to continue the conversation about practices and performances of accountability, a conversation particularly developed within anthropology in work on audit culture. Whereas studies of audit and accountability have richly demonstrated the productive effects of these ostensibly virtuous processes, some critics have deemed our collective story as one-sidedly repressive and lacking nuance. Indeed, other work has drawn attention to guerrilla interventions as well as resistant appropriations or reformulations of accountability for alternative purposes. How are the forms and modalities of accountability mechanisms enabling and constraining? What can and cannot be expressed within them, and what are the politics of visibility and invisibility? How do actors engage in them? What can be said about the subjectivities that these processes elicit or encourage? What do public performances of accountability entail and what are their effects? In exploring such questions, anthropologists might take inspiration from work on critical dialogic accounting that, drawing on agonistic political theory by Mouffe (2005), Tully (2008) and others, aims to develop alternative accounting practices that encourage contestation and foster social justice. Equally relevant are Judith Butler's reflections on the relationship between moral responsibility and practices of self-revelation (2005). We invite papers that investigate—ethnographically, theoretically, ethically—existing and emerging practices and performances of accountability (including but not restricted to audit, self-assessment, peer review, monitoring and evaluation). Exploring together this diversity, we will seek to reflect on the significance of the continuing proliferation of audit culture and on its multifarious, contradictory and sometimes surprising effects.