Body Ritual Among the Nacirema

Topics: Culture, Ritual, The Culture Pages: 3 (1113 words) Published: September 19, 2013
Body Ritual among the Nacirema
Kim Wilson
Ivy Tech Community College

This article written by, Horace Miner, was my first read in where I was shocked to discover such barbaric rituals from other areas of life. I took the time to re-read this article several times. I have learned of many different cultures in where people do things that seem out of the ordinary; however the beliefs and practices of the Nacirema people just seem outlandish. According to, Professor Linton, who brought the ritual of the Nacirema to the attention of anthropologists twenty years ago, claims the culture of these people are very poorly understood (Miner, n.d.). Miner proceeds to give many representations in which the Naciremas people have beliefs and rituals in which they perform on their body. He describes these customs and beliefs as being exotic, magical and extreme. When I first read into this article; as any other Americans, I would assume they would have the same sort of reaction as I first did. After re-reading I am convinced that Miner was indeed writing a satire. My first indication of this was the name Nacirema. When this word is looked at several times its apparent it is simply American spelt backwards. After realizing the true meaning of the name; I reread the article with keeping the American culture in mind. When Minor describes the Nacirema mythology, he notes that the nation was originated by a culture hero, named Notgnihsaw. He proceeds to tell us how this man was responsible 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 (Miner, n.d.). Clearly, we are discussing George Washington. I feel as if Miner is leading his audience to believe that the Nacirema hold Notgnihaw as a hero for simply being an honest person. All Americans are taught from early on that George Washington is indeed a hero; not just because he was an honest person but...


References: Miner, Horance. (n.d.) Body Ritual among the Nacirema. Retrieved from
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/aa.1956.58.3.02a00080/pdf
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