Body Ritual Among the Nacirema Assignment

Topics: Culture, Human behavior, Behavior Pages: 3 (936 words) Published: September 22, 2012

Body Ritual Among the Nacirema Assignment
Community College


Body Ritual Among the Nacirema Assignment
“Body Ritual among the Nacirema" is a paper written by Horace Miner that illustrates American culture in a very different way than most American’s would view it. While it describes many areas of the American lifestyle, it is written to manipulate the reader into thinking that they are reading about an uncivilized tribe of people who either existed long ago or maybe even exist today, somehow untouched by modernization. One has to wonder how we, as Americans, could read something that so clearly and precisely describes our own daily lives and culture do not only recognize it as a description of us but to also feel both superior and sorry for the culture we're reading about. The language and terminology used in the paper could be one of the reasons Americans struggle to associate the narrative with our own culture. Miner writes about a shrine, referring to the bathroom, charms and magical potions, referring to drugs and toiletries, medicine men who are today’s doctors, and holy-mouth-men referring to our dentists. As Americans, we associate the term "magic" with make believe and the belief in it with being uneducated. As for the term "Medicine Men", we're familiar with comparing that position in other cultures as having a similar position as our own doctors, but would never call our doctors by that name. While Miner may have used different words as labels that we're not familiar with using every day, he still used words that are completely applicable in meaning to what he was describing. Who knew we relied on such a standard in the familiarity of specific words having to represent certain things. Who a doctor is and what a doctor should be holds such inherent meaning that the word “doctor” does as well. It's...

References: Miner, Horace. "Body Ritual among the Nacirema". American Anthropologist 58. 1956.
Retrieved August 30, 2012 from
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