In the early nineteenth century, ideas of nature changed when European metropolitan capital developed new ways to report environment in the colonies. Accounting and reporting reforms, based on new economic sensibilities and changes to gift-giving practices, influenced centre-periphery ‘ways of knowing’. In its need for better management of its overseas operations, the London-based Hudson’s Bay Company reformed its accounting and journal reporting in the first decades of the nineteenth century and, in the process, changed how its British investors understood nature in North America. Based on a survey of changing accounting practices and the composition of ‘journals of daily occurrence’ sent from fur trade posts, this article expands understandings of how quantifiable and other ‘intrinsic’ (or measurable) views of nature became an important element of imperialism and metropolitan capitalism.
Keywords: trade, native history, accounting, centre-periphery, gifts, nature, environment, book-keeping, imperialism, environmental history, Hudson’s Bay Company, business reforms, business, globalisation, liberalism