Nacirema - Body Ritual in Anthropology

Good Essays
Topics: Sociology
Anthropology Paper - Module 1
In 1956 a professor from the University of Michigan, Horace Miner, wrote an article in The American Anthropologist that has become a mainstay of learning for anthropology students. Miner published the article to show a fictional exotic society called “Body Ritual among the Nacirema” as an example of how one’s own limited perspective might affect the perception of a foreign culture (Miner, 1956, p. 503). The article uses subtle humor to make the reader more comfortable in examining cultural behaviors, physical appearance, and health as the reader soon discovers that the actual society being examined is the American society. To the reader, the article begins to sound very familiar after each paragraph is examined against the reader’s everyday rituals and habits that occur in many American households. Miner personalizes the examination by relating to the reader through the routine care of the human body by discussing such topics as the number of bathrooms in a house, dentistry, hospitals, prescription medicine, childbirth, breastfeeding, and psychiatry (Miner, 1956, p. 506). As Miner writes, the American reader who may not be initially insightful could look at the cultural behaviors as odd and ridiculous; however, when the ritualistic behaviors are part of an unknown group of people, the reader can begin to see the cultural distinctions without feeling threatened or biased. The approach allows a reader to learn in a nonthreatening atmosphere by studying “them” as a cultural tribe so as to put aside any narrow-minded notion that might prohibit an effective ‘outside-looking-in’ reflective experience (Miner, 1956, p. 506).
For his article, Miner used a method of anthropological information gathering known as participant observation. Participant observation method involves creating a description using the five senses while personally viewing events and behaviors in a given situation (Kawulich, 2005). This method is the primary



References: Clure, K. (2011, ). Structural-Functionalism [Educational brief]. Retrieved from Anthrotheory website: www.anthrotheory.pbworks.com Kawulich, B. (2005, May). Participant observation as a data collection method. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(2 (Art. 43)). Retrieved from www.qualitative-research.net Miner, H. (1956). Body ritual of the Nacirema. The American Anthropologist, 58, 503-507. Retrieved from www.ohio.edu Shore, B. (2003). Family time: studying myth and ritual in working families [Education Paper]. Retrieved from Emory Center for Myth and Ritual in American Life website: www.marial.emory.edu

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Better Essays

    in writing this article was not to show the “Nacirema” as an example of how extreme human behavior can become, but how an outside perspective can affect your perception of an alien culture. If one were to look at the “Nacirema’s” cultural behaviors regarding physical appearance and health without any insight or knowledge of the specific beliefs or values of that culture, they might seem bizarre and even incomprehensible. By showing behaviors and “rituals” performed by this unknown tribe, Miner allowed…

    • 994 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Body Rituals of the Nacirema tells a story of a tribal group’s lifestyle and the rituals of it. Miner is actually talking about the American culture. As most of us know, Nacirema is American spelled backwards. In this article, Miner’s intention is not to express the extreme human behavior with the Nacirema, but the way it affects our perception of an unfamiliar culture. If we were to look at the Nacirema’s behaviors with regards to appearance and hygiene without the slightest bit of knowledge about…

    • 657 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Body Rituals Nacirema

    • 572 Words
    • 2 Pages

    In the article “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” by Horace Miner, he writes about a North American group known as the “Nacirema”, who were described by Professor Linton in the early twentieth century. In the article described, the “Nacirema” are a cultural group who seem to be obsessed with rituals they perform in regards to the human body on a day-to-day basis. These people believe that the human body is ugly and debilitating and are described to waste great portions of their days performing the…

    • 572 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Body Ritual of the Nacirema discusses the habits of Americans and medical professionals to someone outside the culture. The article is meant to make the Americans health habits seem like a new discovery. In the article it examined health habits that Americans follow, it also examined the bathroom habits of the Americans, and it also examined the medical professionals that treat them. But the distinction of the habits of the Americans in the article is that the author worded them as if they were…

    • 810 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Professor Emma Linton of the Martian Institute of Interplanetary Cultural Anthropology might have come up with her unexpected conclusions regarding to the body rituals of the Nacirema people. Linton's report was wildly inaccurate written due to the facts that she does not have any qualitative previous knowledge about the culture and she like to draw a comparison between cultures. She did not follow all the methodological process an anthropologist should follow, and a long term of studying of the…

    • 597 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Body Rituals Among the Nacirema Abstract This study examines Horace Miner’s essay “Body Rituals Among the Nacirema. While using the participant observation approach, he gives us a new perspective on the daily behaviors within this group of people. Exploring ethnocentrism and how we view cultures outside of our own. Horace Miner was a professor for the University of Michigan. He sought out to teach young people the importance of cultural anthropology. ("Horace Mitchell Miner - Wikipedia, the…

    • 1097 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Body Ritual among the Nacirema Name Course Sociology Date 6/12/2013 Body Ritual among the Nacirema Horace Miner in the article, Body Ritual Among the Nacirema depicts a society that is growing naturally, but which has transformed itself into a ritual tribe. In this article, the tribe, Nacirema, is a tribe that has transformed itself naturally and which has incorporated a lot of beliefs and religious tendency for…

    • 1031 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    #1 Summary of Miner’s “Body Ritual among the Nacirema” Abstract This paper is a summary of Horace Miner’s paper “Body Ritual among the Nacirema”. It talks about how every culture has a set of rituals they practice religiously, and in particular, the unusual rituals and beliefs of the Nacirema people from an outsider’s perspective. Amanda Carson Sociology 111 Writing Assignment #1 January 25, 2015 Summary of Horace Miner’s “Body Ritual among the Nacirema Every society, tribe…

    • 657 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    January 26, 2013 Horace Minor applied satire in his article “Body Ritual among the Nacirema.” to the culture of the American people. Several ways in which “Body Ritual among the Nacirema” relate to the core concepts of sociology are through the use of sociological imagination, ethnocentrism and cultural relativism. The American culture is described by Minor in a very unique and humorous way. The author uses satire to examine the rituals that are every day in American culture. The reader thinks at…

    • 948 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” In Horace Miner’s essay on the tribe of Nacirema, it takes little effort to determine that Nacirema is a depiction of a typical American’s health habits. This essay is important for two reasons: It teaches principles about our own culture and it makes us assess the value/downfall of looking at other cultures with an etic approach. Without a doubt, this essay personalizes the study of cultures and its respective peoples. Regarding the view of North American…

    • 525 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays