Fake News and the British East India Company: Disinformation in the Early Modern World
Welcome to the Annual Lecture of the Cluster for Colonial Connections and Comparisons. Professor Margaret Hunt, professor at Uppsala University is giving a talk.
In the later seventeenth century the East India Company was deeply unpopular both in Asia and in Europe. Its enemies routinely attacked it in the most damning terms and conspiracy theories featuring the Company circulated widely. As a result Company officials were almost constantly engaged in trying to shore up its public reputation and stress its corporate integrity -- campaigns that were themselves deeply misleading. This lecture examines the context within which these varied disinformation campaigns arose, describes some of them in detail, and asks what was different (or similar) about fake news and conspiracy theories in an age when it took as much as a year for news to get from Asia to Western Europe.