Why did Horace Miner write the article on the “Nacirema”? (That is, what point was he trying to make?) What do the “lessons” of the Nacirema reveal about the conflicts described in The Spirit Catches You? What did you learn from the assignment?
Horace Miner writes this article to captivate his audience. Miner takes a full on anthropological approach in an attempt to expose his own American culture to their egocentrism, vanity, and narcissistic views that are presented throughout his article. He makes this apparent when saying; “There are ritual fasts to make fat people thin and ceremonial feasts to make thin people fat. Still other rites are used to make women's breasts larger if they are small and smaller if they are large.” Most every task is portrayed individualistically as to show how self-engaged the Nacirema are. Miner is very cleaver in the way in which he presents his findings. The idea of spelling American backwards so that it reads Nacirema helps the reader to maintain less of a bias as they begin on a journey into the lives of the American culture. I really enjoyed the way in which he conveys his position as an outsider looking in and how very descriptive he is in depicting the rituals of the American way of life of the 1950’s. It is evident that the ways in which people perceive themselves in the everyday are not so apparent to those looking in. In retrospect, looking back at the confusion the Hmong were experiencing when viewing the Americans culture in The Spirit Catches You; it is easy to understand and justify the Hmong’s fears and confusion as outsiders of the American culture. After reading this article from Miner’s viewpoint, I was able to appreciate how uneasy adaptability and understanding can be not only as an outsider but as an insider with the blinders removed.
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