The Nacirema people, living in the territory between the Canadian Creed, the Yaqui and Tarahumare of Mexico, and the Carib and Arawak of the Antilles, are a group of Northern Americans who have chosen to live their lives in a strange manner. There is a main premise to their choice of lifestyle and that is to rid the body of its ugliness and natural tendencies towards debility and disease. (p. 503). The Nacirema people have devoted their lives to deterring these features of themselves through ritual and ceremony. (p. 503). Horace Miner gives an explicit description of these people’s diverse way of living, as well as, an unbiased viewpoint of the culture of the Nacirema.
Personally, I have heard of these ‘people’ before; I use air quotes because I am simply unsure what to believe. Many people say that Nacimera is an anadrome for American, and after reading Miner’s descriptors, I find it hard not to see the difference. When I first read about these people my stomach literally turned at some of the rituals and ceremonies they performed; from face scrapping to head baking, I simply could not wrap my brain around what in the world these people were doing; until I heard about the anadrome. This made me think a little deeper into American culture as a whole; just like the Nacimera people, Americans have just as many body issues leading to such disgusting acts like face scraping and head baking; have we ever heard of plastic surgery or tanning beds? Many of their rituals as well reminded me of our religious rituals we do. We have religions that use holy water to cleanse, and according to Miner, as do the Nacimera.
I am not exactly sure what to believe after reading Miner’s essay; he makes solid points that link my idea together, however, what is the goal here? Are we testing the waters just to see how far we can take this before American people realize they are the really the ones that are living in a strange manner; with a culture that just ‘doesn’t get it?’...
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