Body Rituals among the Nacirema by Miner: Article Analysis

Topics: Ritual, United States, Human body Pages: 2 (608 words) Published: October 2, 2014
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In his article Body Rituals among the Nacirema, Miner effectively convinces his reader of the ridiculous nature of America’s obsession with the body’s health and visual appeal by allowing his readers to form an opinion about themselves without realizing they are their own subject. At first glance the reader may be convinced he is reading about magical beliefs and extreme practices of a little know civilization. Miner effectively employs an academic tone as he opens the paper with “[t]he anthropologist has become so familiar with the diversity of ways in which different peoples behave in similar situations that he is not apt to be surprised by even the most exotic customs.” Miner continues to use this tone throughout the article. Furthermore his statement “[t]he rites are normally only discussed with children… I was able, however, to establish sufficient rapport with the natives to examine these shrines and to have the rituals described to me” shows superior attitude to place his reader on the level of a scholar observing a native (Miner 503). Still even an inexperienced evaluator soon realizes the connection between the Nacirema and the United States. In fact, the word “Nacirema” is “American” spelled backwards. Miner further correlates the Nacirema to Americans by describing the location of this tribe to be in North America and refers to the feats of their hero whose name happens to be Washington spelled backwards (Miner 503). Miner describes the Nacirema people as a culture obsessed with rituals regarding to the vanity of the human body. In reality many of these rituals are considered to be normal hygiene practices by most civilized cultures. For example, “scraping and lacerating the surface of the face with a sharp instrument”, (shaving), “washing the hands and body in holy water” (showering), and “inserting a small bundle of hogs hair into the mouth, along with certain magical powders, and moving the bundle in a highly formalized series of...
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