Desh Dies? Sifting through emotions in the Desh Pardesh collection

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Over the past couple weeks, my research partner, Alisha, and I have been working through a number of interviews conducted in 2014-2015 with various participants of the Desh Pardesh festival. We’ve been weaving through text-heavy transcripts, and even transcribing a few audio interviews, but in the past couple of days we’ve been finally able to come in contact with the real archives. Seeing material outside of reflection or storytelling is a completely different experience.

"Desh Dies?" Clipping for Xtra! magazine, August 23, 2001. Source: Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives Vertical Files

“Desh Dies?” Clipping for Xtra! magazine, August 23, 2001. Source: Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives Vertical Files

The tiny article above struck me, not by its content but by the title of it: Desh Dies? What feels so interesting about this tiny piece of paper, which was likely in a small corner of the newspaper Xtra! is that it leaves this end of Desh open to interpretation by posing the festival’s demise as a question— expressing a kind of disbelief in the notion of Desh Pardesh ending. This kind of emotion also came through in a lot of the interviews that we’ve been listening to many of the interviewees reflected on how their memories of Desh have been nothing but good (of course with minor hiccups), and a few also remarked on how Desh might reoccur today.

I found this article interesting because it takes these feelings of nostalgia and hopefulness and sums them up briefly in a couple of words — without having even lived through that nostalgia. I think its interesting how  feelings attached to he festival have carried on nearly a decade after its collapse. The parallels in time are truly representative of the kind of impact this festival had on its community, its artists, its audience and beyond.