Decameron Relived: ‘Waiting’
Professor Tine Gammeltoft has written the story ‘Waiting’, a piece of ethnographic fiction that takes place in Vietnam’s northern Thái Bình province. Written in a short story format, it gives a small glimpse into the everyday life of the male protagonist's family and his neighbour, Ông Hiền, with whom he joined the same army unit back in the late 1960s.
The piece is part of a series of ten stories called Decameron Relived published by the Society for Cultural Anthropology and inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s classic collection of stories, set during the outbreak of the Black Death.
On the initiative of Iza Kavedžija from the University of Exeter, the setting has been moved up to the COVID-19 pandemic with its widespread lockdowns. In March 2020, Kavedžija invited nine other anthropologists to write stories inspired by their fieldwork. The aim was to offer stories “as a source of entertainment and solace, but also to provoke a different kind of existential reflection”, as she puts it in her introduction.
Although fictional of nature, Gammeltoft’s story is inspired by her extensive research in Vietnam, including collaborative fieldwork in Thái Bình province.
Read more about the project that inspired the story: Living Together with Chronic Disease: Informal Support for Diabetes Management in Vietnam