Photo/Stories from the field: A dog’s statue (and the story behind it)

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We loved listening to our interlocutors stories in the Connectors Study, and we have had a fair share of them during the ethnographic fieldwork in the three cities. We were particularly interested with perceptions and relations to the public sphere and publics – which often occurred through story-telling. The following extract is an example of such a convergence of story-telling and publics, taking place in public space.

 

‘There’s one more thing I have to show you.’ We have been walking for quite some time with eight-year-old Ardian on that day, as part of him taking me through a tour of his neighbourhood, around the things which he considered important there. We had actually walked quite far from his neighbourhood and had reached a different area of Athens, one he really liked (Kipseli). After a slow-paced walk along the pedestrianised Fokionos Negri street, we reached a park towards the end of the street. There it is, he said and pointed at the statue of a dog. I thought it was beautiful, and we both made pictures of it. He told me that it has a story behind it – like most things do for Ardian who is a great story-teller and has often remarked that things are often more complex than what they seem to be at first sight – he is readily acknowledging this complexity in his stories, and he is very keen to discuss this. We sat on a nearby bench, and he told me how this statue was made in honour of a dog who was abandoned there, and stayed there, at the same spot, for years waiting for the human who abandoned it to return. The neighbours would bring him food and water, and generally cared for him. They tried to take the dog to their homes, but the dog didn’t want to leave the spot, where he was waiting faithfully. Eventually, when the dog died – Ardian thinks of old age, but it might have been from the weather, he told me, the neighbours decided to gather money among them and to commission someone to make a statue for this dog. I told Ardian that I find the story amazing, he told me that he thinks so too. I asked him why he thinks that that’s important? He told me that it is there to remind people of the importance of devotion and of patience. But, he added, it’s also very important because it shows us how a wicked man has made other people unite and do good deeds. The evil man who abandoned the dog has eventually made the neighbours to coordinate and commonly take care of the dog. This is very important too, he told me.

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