Journalism - Villa Medici x Jean-Luc Lagardère Foundation Residency

Clea Chakraverty

Clea Chakraverty

27/02/2023 / 27/03/2023
Start of residency 27/02/2023
End of residency 27/03/2023

Clea Chakraverty lived in India for several years where she worked as a journalist for various media, including Le Monde diplomatique. She also conducted research in anthropology. She is currently in charge of politics and society for the online magazine The Conversation France. She was awarded the 2013 Jean-Luc Lagardère Foundation Journalist Grant for a reporting project which resulted in the publication of La Voix de Sita, her first novel, on 12 January 2023, published by Globe.

Residency project at Villa Medici :

In 21st century India, an agro-pharmaceutical conglomerate, an Indian scientist and a biodiversity protection organisation are in a frantic race to find silphium, a spice plant with magical properties from ancient times. The plant is believed to have recently resurfaced in Anatolia, more than 2,000 years after it disappeared in the Cyrene region. To guide them, they rely on the writings of a young Persian disciple of Pliny the Elder, in the first century AD.

Although silphium “officially” disappeared in the 2nd century AD, historians and botanists regularly report its resurgence. Perhaps the first victim of the “food fad”, this spice plant is in any case emblematic of the utilitarian exploitation of nature as well as of the globalisation of practices and knowledge. This ancient and contemporary conquest of silphium will be part of a novelistic project. I would like it to mix – in the continuity of my interests – mythical and everyday objects, academic research, journalistic investigation and work on the circulation of ideas and postcoloniality.

© KL