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Body Ritual Among the Nacirema Analysis

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Body Ritual Among the Nacirema Analysis

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  • November 2011
  • 600 Words
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Miner’s article describes the Nacirema culture as one that pays special attention to economy, wealth, and body-focused rituals performed to keep oneself looking aesthetically pleasing, not unlike our own American culture. Found between Canada and Mexico, the people of the Nacirema tribe perform these rituals to keep death and disease at bay, while also improving the looks and social life of the worshipper. Common practices mentioned in the article include washing themselves with purified water, visiting multiple physicians to improve the state of the mouth and body, and fasting to make oneself appear thinner. Another interesting ritual is the one where the female’s breasts are either augmented or decreased, scathingly identical to the very same ritual known to occur in America. This entire article is a satire on American culture disguised as a North American tribe. Upon reading the article for a first time, I only caught a few similarities such as the rituals in pure water, the use of charms to fight disease, and the means of having a “listener” to exorcise curses or demons. However, I had more of a religious view on the rituals instead of a cultural one. I originally linked those rites to baptism, crucifix symbols, and a priest at confession. Only once I read the article a second time could I clearly observe the parallels between America and the Nacirema description. Miner’s article is clever and witty to portray American culture with the lack of a “true” observation in order to portray how ethnocentrism can affect one’s judgement of another culture. The Nacirema are slightly scrutinized for being believers in these magic rituals regardless of whether they make a difference in the life of the patient or not. In particular, the practice of visiting the holy-mouth-man or dentist is associated with better social interaction with peers. The article points out how crazy it is to return to the dentist or doctor at a latipso, or hospital, after enduring an unbearable...