Body Ritual Among the Nacirema

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January 26, 2013

Horace Minor applied satire in his article “Body Ritual among the Nacirema.” to the culture of the American people. Several ways in which “Body Ritual among the Nacirema” relate to the core concepts of sociology are through the use of sociological imagination, ethnocentrism and cultural relativism. The American culture is described by Minor in a very unique and humorous way. The author uses satire to examine the rituals that are every day in American culture. The reader thinks at the beginning of the article that they are reading about some uncivilized tribe of people but soon realized that the “rituals” that are being performed are just everyday events that take place in every American household. Miner describes the tribe as a North American group living in the territory between the “Canadian Cree, the Yaqui and Tarahumare of Mexico, and the Carib and Arawak of the Antilles.” He goes on to say that their nation was founded by a cultural hero, Notgnihsaw, who is mainly known for two great feats of strength; the throwing of a piece of “wampum” across the river Pa-To-Mac and the chopping down of a cherry tree in which the “Spirit of Truth” resided” (Minor, 1956) Almost everyone in America knows the story about George Washington cutting down the cherry tree. This is when the intentions of the author’s work are realized. The name of the tribe, “Nacirema” is actually “American” spelled backwards, and “Notgnishaw” who cut down the cherry tree is “Washington” spelled backwards. Minor uses qualitative research methodology in his observations of the rituals of the Nacirema (American) tribe and uses language to describe seemingly bizarre observations. His observations described the economical pursuits of the people and obsession with bodily appearances, as well as the rituals involved to attain these personal and aesthetic goals. Minor refers to the bathrooms as shrines “while each family has at least one such shrine, the rituals associated with...
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