Grading, gradients, degradation, grace
Part 2: Phenomenology, materiality, and cosmology

Paul Kockelman


Part 1 of this article, which appeared in the last edition of this journal, focused on intensity and causality through the lens of social conventions and communicative practices. This part focuses on related themes from the standpoint of phenomenology, cosmology, and materiality. The central ethnographic object is still landslides in Highland Guatemala, and the ways speakers of Q’eqchi’ (Maya), from a small village in the cloud forest, relate to such events. And so we will continue to analyze the aftermath of one such landslide, taking up precisely where part 1 left off. More generally, though less explicitly, this article continues our articulation of four key terms for the Anthropocene (and, as should now be clear, for almost Everycene): “gradients” (the way qualities vary in their intensity over space and time, and the ways such variations relate to causal processes), “grading” (the ways agents assess and alter such intensities, and experience and intervene in causal processes), “degradation” (the ways highly valuable variations in qualitative intensities are lowered or lost), and “grace” (the way agents work to maintain gradients, care for those whose lives have been degraded, and value those agents who work and care in such ways). 


grace, phenomenology, materiality, cosmology, semiotics, engine, entropy, temperature

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau6.3.022