Carmen Spiers, of American nationality, successfully defended in December 2020 her doctoral thesis in French entitled « Magie et poésie dans l’Inde ancienne. Édition, traduction et commentaire de la Paippalādasaṁhitā de l’Atharvaveda, livre 3 » at the École pratique des Hautes Études (PSL) with Nalini Balbir as director and Arlo Griffiths (EFEO) as co-director. After her 2013 B.A. in Classics (Latin) at the University of Washington (Seattle, USA), she undertook an indological cursus in Paris at the University Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle, where she obtained her “Licence” in Indian Studies (Sanskrit) in 2014 and her master’s degree in 2016. She then obtained a PSL paid doctoral contract to conduct her PhD research at the École pratique des Hautes Études. In the course of her PhD studies, she was invited several times to participate in the Paippalāda project workshops at the University of Zurich (Switzerland), and she also completed several research fieldwork trips in India at the French Institute of Pondicherry (2018-2019) and at the École française d’Extrême Orient (2020, with an EFEO fieldwork grant).
Fields of research
Carmen Spiers researches Vedic culture from multiple angles: starting with the philological study of little-known Vedic texts, and up till now especially the literature of the Atharvaveda, she attempts to further our understanding of Vedic Sanskrit (in synchrony and with respect to Indo-European linguistics), as well as of the Vedic ritual system and more generally of the society in which this ritual developed in antiquity. Her work has led her furthermore to study the category of “magic,” often used to describe the Atharvaveda, from a comparative viewpoint and by making use of the resources offered by anthropology and linguistics for the theorization of human ritual practices.