HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The State of Ohio’s Auditors, the Enumeration of Population and the Project of Eugenics

Cameron Graham (York University), Martin Emanuel Persson (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Vaughan S. Radcliffe (University of Western Ontario), Mitchell Stein (University of Western Ontario), The State of Ohio’s Auditors, the Enumeration of Population and the Project of Eugenics, J. Bus. Ethics (2022):

In 1856, the State of Ohio began an enumeration of its population to enumerate and identify people with disabilities. This paper examines the role of the accounting profession in this project, which supported the transatlantic eugenics movement and its genocidal attempts to eliminate disabled persons from the population. We use a theoretical approach based on Levinas to show that the self is generated through engagement with the Other, and argue that this engagement is built on a sense of responsibility to the Other (Knights and O’Leary, 2006, p. 126). We show that successive waves of legislation relied on State and County auditors along with Township clerks and assessors to conduct the mechanics of the enumeration of the population, which focused on the identification, categorization, and counting of the disabled people of the State. The financial expertise and structures of the State were engaged in the execution of this mandate, which remained in place for over a century. We consider the ramifications of this for our understanding of the role of public sector accounting in the United States over this period, which has been under-explored.

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