Horace Miner's "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema"

High School ・Sociology ・MLA ・1 Sources

""Body Ritual Among the Nacirema,"" The presentation of the Nacirema by the author makes it sound like such a group really exists, and I was already arranging time in the back of my mind for further study on this group of people. However, as I kept reading about the body rituals performed by the culture of North America, it dawned on me that the rituals of Nacirema are an indication of the everyday body care and treatment carried out by modern Americans. The description of the Nacirema as having an "almost pathological horror of and fascination with the mouth" (504), plus the link of the mouth to social relationships revealed the American's obsession with dental hygiene and how it impacts a person's confidence in social life. After drawing the parallels between the Naciremas and the modern Americans, I was convinced that the anthropologist wrote the article to show Americans who they truly are. However, upon my second reading of the article, I could tell that Miner intended to critique the manner in which anthropological studies are carried out. There is a tendency by American anthropologists to present standard, simple and everyday rituals of foreign groups to appear strange, primitive and horrific.
I believe, Miner's account of the Nacirema is an excellent way of showing how people from different cultures can perceive and present each other's routine behaviors. If the Nacirema's rituals sound bizarre to American citizens who do not have an idea that the article describes their daily activities, how strange would it be for non-American readers? What I picked from the article is that the analysis of different societies should be done by considering what is typical to the specific communities to avoid false presentations.

Works Cited

Miner, Horace. "Body Ritual among The Nacirema." American Anthropologist, vol 58, no. 3, 1956, pp. 503-507. Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1525/aa.1956.58.3.02a00080.

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