ANTH1001 Assignment #1
The Nacirema people are located below the Canadian Cree, and above the Taqui and Tarahumaire of Mexico. This places them in the United States. The ‘shrine’ that the author is referring to is the washroom.
The three ritual specialists the author discusses are the ‘holy-mouth-man’ (commonly known as the dentist), the medicine man (commonly referred to as the doctor), and the ‘listener’ (or psychiatrist)
The article helps to show that without being able to have an outside perspective; it is very difficult to really see how unique your culture can be when it has become part of everyday life. While all of the practices discussed in the article would be deemed as ‘normal’, having them written in a more literal way shows how obscure they actually are.
The most effective ‘ritual’ discussed in the article was the act of “scraping and lacerating the surface of the face with a sharp object”, or shaving as it is more commonly known. It is very strange that part of our daily culture is to literally drag a sharp object across our skin for (mainly) aesthetic purposes.
One example of a strange practice in our culture would be our dressing habits. A large percentage of the way North American people dress is based on a certain visual style. It is often very impractical or uncomfortable, and people can spend a large portion of their money on clothes and accessories. Another strange part of many ‘modern’ cultures is going to the gym. The process of using a device made for travel (a car) is used to take the person to a special building where they simulate travelling be foot on a device that doesn’t move (treadmill). It is very strange that so many people would do this instead of actually travelling by foot in the first place. While it may make sense in very cold weather, it is still counter intuitive in a way.
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