Forward into the (Deep) Past

Back to the Future: The Harvard Kalahari Project RevisitedThe Kalahari Desert of southern Africa is our laboratory this semester. We will reject contemporary theories of sustainability that are limited to the application of remedial technologies and amendatory techniques alone. Instead we will use this unforgiving, extreme and ancient landscape and its denizens as a catalyst to invent entirely new design models and speculative practices ultimately arriving at a deployable architecture and associated landscape for a new hybrid KhoiSan cultural tourism- research venture on a remote limestone ridge in the western Kalahari on top of a recently discovered ancient cave system. Evolutionary biologists, geneticists and linguists tell us that the Kalahari KhoiSan hunter-gatherers and their ancestors, who have thrived in this hostile environment for tens of thousands of years, are the remnants of the world\’s oldest and most successful civilization. Central to KhoiSan hunter-gatherer economy and culture is a Stone Age intelligence interconnected to their environment, a knowledge system that coevolved with that harsh landscape. This culture has survived because it is highly adaptive, able to absorb, deflect, respond to and integrate change. The Harvard Kalahari Project of 1960\’s and 70\’s was a seminal anthropological study documenting the relationship between KhoiSan hunter-gatherer culture and environment. We will have access to this comprehensive archive and other interdisciplinary resources at the university.