Body Ritual Among the Nacirema
In this article anthropologist, Horace Miner writes about the depiction of the North American group called the Nacirema, described by a Professor Linton in the early 1900s. The Nacirema people were characterised as being obsessed with rituals about the vanity of the human body. There is a description of a shrine with medicines and magical materials placed inside. A daily ritual that is described is “scraping and lacerating the surface of the face with a sharp instrument.” This ritual is mostly done by men. Certain women's rituals are only performed four times during each lunar month. This ritual is said to include the women baking “their heads in small ovens for about an hour.” The medicine men have an imposing temple, in every sizeable community. It is depected that Nacirema avoids “exposure of his body and its natural functions.” It is depected that the rites of the holy mouth men, “involve discomfort and torture.” They are said to “insert magic wands in the supplicant's mouth or force him to eat substances which are supposed to be healing.” The listener is a witch-doctor that has the power practice exorcisms. It is depected that the Nacirema believe that the mother and father bewitch their own children, but mothers are suposably the main threat of bewitching. The Nacirema are never happy with there body and will commit barbaric rituals to change them. They impose unnecessary burdens on themselves.
While reading this article I thought to myself that the guy depicting this culture is an ethnocentric bigot, but then I realised that Nacirema is American backwards. This article is about our culture. The Shrine with medicines is a household bathroom, the the charm box is a medicine cabinet, holy mouth-men are dentists, the listener is a psychiatrist, latipso is hospital spelt backwards without the h and medicine men are doctors. After this personal realisation I found that the main point the author is...
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