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“The image of China in 18th Century Sweden and the Swedish Freedom of the Press Act of 1766”
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Linguistics and Philology.
2015 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The world’s first freedom of information act: His Majesty’s Gracious Ordinance Relating to Freedom of Writing and of the Press was passed in the Swedish Diet in 1766. It is hard to imagine today that this had anything to do with China, but Swedish politicians, such as Anders Nordencrantz and Anders Chydenius, drew some of their arguments from Jean Baptiste Du Halde’s Description géographique, historique, chronologique, politique, et physique de l’empire de la Chine et de la Tartarie chinoise, claiming that the freedom of writing and of information existed in China since ancient times, and was the very reason for China’s prosperity and political stability (as has been discussed in publications by Marie-Christine Skuncke). In this paper I compare the political pamphlets written by Nordencrantz: Thoughts about the Freedom to use Reason, Pens and Printing, and how far this Freedom should be extended in a free Society, along with its Consequences and Chydenius: An Account of the Chinese Freedom of Writing: Translated from Danish, with Du Halde’s work and with Danish politician Frederik Lütken’s “Some Chinese rules of State and economic maxims or customs: extracts from Father Du Halde”, from which these Swedish politicians drew their inspiration with regard to the image of China and of the freedom of writing in China.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Freedom of information, Freedom of the Press, China
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-279475OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-279475DiVA: diva2:908195
The Fourteenth Congress of the International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ISECS) in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Available from: 2016-03-01 Created: 2016-03-01 Last updated: 2016-04-22

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Rydholm, Lena
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Department of Linguistics and Philology

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