Summary of Body Ritual Among the Nacirema

Good Essays
“Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” Summary In the essay “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema”, anthropologist Horace Miner depicts a group of people known as the “Nacirema”, but is referring to Americans, whose cultural beliefs are deeply rooted in the perspective that the human body is prune to sickness and disfiguration. Consequently, a substantial part of their lives is spent on unusual rituals and customs to improve conditions of the body that are filled with magical components. Moreover, Miner uses the Nacirema’s unusual culture to establish his view that we simply could not judge another culture that it is different from our own, as opposed to another anthropologist Malinowski’s point that we can judge another culture since we are superior but we should not (Miner 173).
Among different “exotic” rituals practiced by the “Nacirema”, an important one involves the “shrine”, for it is almost impossible to find a household without it. Each person worships in front of the “charm box” in the shrine, which holds vast amount of magical drinks and remedies whose components are only known to the medicine men (Miner 172). The “shrine” is referring to the bathroom in each American household, and the “charm box” being the medicine cabinet and the “medicine men” referring to doctors. The “worshipping” behavior shows Americans’ obsession with appearances, as they fear the ugly natural form of the body, and perform the daily routine of cleansing and examining themselves in front of the mirror (172). This most usual routine for average Americans can be seen as bizarre and exotic when judged from an outside culture.
Miner further describes another significant ritual, the “sacred mouth practice” which involves inflicting pain by a specialist of the mouth area to prevent its deterioration, along with a different procedure done by the individual privately on a daily basis. The Nacirema fears the decay of the mouth area, and believes its condition also affect their social



Cited: Miner, Horace. “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema”. American Anthropologist. June 1965: 503-507. Print.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • 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 their culture, all of their actions might seem absurd and baffling. Ceremonies performed at the Latipso are among the most interesting practices of the Nacirema. Initially it puzzled me as to why people would fork out money for expensive gifts and willingly go to the temple when a full recovery or survival cannot be guaranteed. The rituals to exorcise sickness or purify patients are often more harmful than the sickness itself. A closer observation of the article indicated that the Latipso actually stands for a hospital, while the medicine men are doctors and the vestal maiden nurses. The temple seems to portray death to some but it is considered a haven for healing from within the civilization. Miner made the effort to allow others to realize that the way studies were representing distinctive culture was biased. Without the proper understanding of any society, cultural misunderstandings are bound to occur. While we take a step further into the discussion on the Nacirema as an alien group of people, we have to understand their customs and rituals from a cultural perspective. Nothing could be more interesting than to present a cultural analysis of the Nacirema and discern the true nature of their existence.…

    • 657 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Nacirema, American spelled backward, is a satire paper attempting to force Americans to evaluate their culture and look at it in a different way. By using words that are obscure, atypical and abnormal to describe very common American practices, the paper offers a strange way of defining our culture. One instance in the paper was how Americans hold importance in oral hygiene and use tooth brushes and tooth paste to brush our teeth daily. The author describes this as a “mouth-rite” and a “revolting” daily body ritual. What we understand to be brushing our teeth is illustrated as “inserting a small bundle of hog hairs into the mouth, along with certain magical powders, and then moving the bundle in a highly formalized series of gestures” (Miner,…

    • 309 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Sociology Nacirema

    • 930 Words
    • 4 Pages

    “The Body Ritual” was written in 1956, a time when people’s basic understanding of different culture was insufficient. (Hyung Kim, 2012) The article focuses on the Nacirema and the strange beliefs and superstitions that happen within their culture. If someone is reading this for the first time they may not catch on to Miner’s satirical delivery and unknowingly assume the Nacirema is a Native American tribe. “Instead Miner was talking about common behaviors of Americans that he turned into supernatural and magical rituals. What this actually shows is how language can shape the reader’s impression of a culture in a way that causes people to understand in a totally different perspective.” (Hyung Kim). Miner tricked people into thinking that everyday people, places, and things were a part of a foreign culture. For example; calling bathrooms “shrines”, Doctors “medicine men”, pharmacists “herbalists”, hospitals “latipsohs” and thermometers “magic wands in the supplicants mouths.” (Miner, 1956)…

    • 930 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Broadly speaking, Horace Miner, the author of “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema”, criticizes Nacirema’s uncivilized culture. In the article, Miner describes how the tribes perform the strange sadism rituals to very extreme level. The holy-mouth-man uses a variety of tool to enlarge the client’s mouth and put magical materials into the holes. What makes Miner more uncomfortable is that women even bake their head in small ovens for an hour. He thinks that “the magical beliefs and practices of Nacirema present such unusual aspects that it seems desirable to describe them as an example of the extremes to which human behavior can go.” And Miner calls the Nacirema a masochistic and magic-ridden people.…

    • 633 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    In the article Body Ritual Among The Nacirema by Horace Miner, he makes fun of people’s weaknesses, mistakes, foolishness, and wrong behavior. He uses confusing vocabulary words to make it hard for use to know who the article is talking about. Miner refers Nacirema as to America. He wanted to make Nacirema seem magical and silly by describing them as born with behaviors. Miner also, believes that Nacierma do bizarra thing because he does not understand the meaning behind their behavior. One of the behavior is the belief in the ugliness of human body. In society, we are told what is pretty from what is ugly. This is determined by models, hairdressers, barber shop, spa, and infomercial. As a society, we have the power to decided what is right…

    • 195 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    The other reading was an article “Body Ritual among the Nacirema” by Horace Miner, after reading the article, I realize that it was specifically referring to the American culture in a strange way like for example the latipso temple is a hospital, medicine men are doctors, laceration of the face is simply shaving, women baking heads in small ovens is simply going to the salon and putting their heads under the hair dryers and other things that you can relate to our culture.…

    • 2609 Words
    • 11 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Nacirema Culture Analysis

    • 273 Words
    • 2 Pages

    As we read this article, we see the Nacirema as a masochistic culture which gave their possessions for the chance to be treated with rituals they felt purified the body, mind and soul. This was achieved through the treatment and advice of the medicine men, holy mouth men or the listener. When they followed through with the rituals, it was thought…

    • 273 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Perceptions Paper

    • 896 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Miner, Horace (1964; 2004). Body Ritual Among the Nacirema. In Winters, Paul and Schneider, James (Fourth Edition). Frame and Focus. (p.p. 31 – 35). Washington, DC: Person Custom Publishing.…

    • 896 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    In the everyday life of the perceived “normal” individual, rituals and rites performed by individuals as part of a different culture might seem harsh, cruel or even barbaric. After my first read of "Body Ritual among the Nacirema", that is how I perceived their daily way of life. They believe in magic potions, seeking pain from the “holy – mouth – men” a couple of times a year, and the men and women perform acts that seem to contradict one another by trying to obtain abnormal body shapes, and then the men cut their face daily and the women “bake their heads in small ovens for about an hour”. What I discovered when reading this article again was that the author, Sir Horatio Galbraith, put a spin on words in many different ways, but this article just goes to show that what may seem normal to you could be portrayed as a terrible way to conduct daily life to others.…

    • 977 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    nacimeras

    • 1381 Words
    • 6 Pages

    The 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. In fact, if all of the logically possible combinations of behavior have not been found somewhere in the world, he is apt to suspect that they must be present in some yet undescribed tribe. This point has, in fact, been expressed with respect to clan organization by Murdock. In this light, the magical beliefs and practices of the Nacirema present such unusual aspects that it seems desirable to describe them as an example of the extremes to which human behavior can go.…

    • 1381 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Nacirema Culture Analysis

    • 614 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Many of the practices Miner mentions in the article aren’t really strange to the Nacirema culture. But an outsider views the practices as odd. For example, Miner mentions about a shrine box, which translate to a medicine cabinet being strange to the outsider. The charms and magical potions in the shrine box being the medicine needed cure the ills and maladies of an individual. Medicine had a purpose of curing those maladies for many with similar ills. But the outsider views pulling out these magical packets is not something done in their culture or rather not seen as necessary. These charms and magical potions are given to the people by the medicine men, or rather doctors, psychiatrists, and pharmacists. Another strange practice to the outsider is the belief in the…

    • 614 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Nacirema Tribe

    • 335 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Over 50 years ago, Horace Miner published a study on the Nacirema Tribe. In the study he talked about their body rituals, and revealed to the world every strange ritual these people had. After reading this study, I decided to do one for myself. So I visited the Nacirema tribe. The things I observed still puzzles me.…

    • 335 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    As I started to read “Body Ritual Among The Nacirema” by Horace Miner I was really confused. You told us that the homework was to write what was the real true meaning of this reading but I had to reread the pages over and over to find the true meaning to the reading that Horace Miner was talking about. It is a culture named Nacirema and that no one really know much about this culture. And also that they come from the east. He talks about the rituals they have and how they care for their bodies and try to make it look beautiful because they believe that the human body is ugly and that is the reason why we decay when we die. He also talks about how the Nacirema culture they take care of their mouths because…

    • 481 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    The article “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” by Horace Miner, was very interesting because it mocks our society as a whole without blatantly stating the similarities. The reader is supposed to view the Nacirema as being quite outrageous in their way of life; the magical beliefs and superstitions. However, if you step back and look at the bigger picture of the article, is the Nacirema really any different from us?…

    • 684 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Every society, tribe, or group of people have certain rituals and beliefs that we practice every day. In Horace Miner’s “Body Ritual among the Nacirema”, he tells us about this particular tribes unusual rituals, therefore giving us an insight into how different human behaviors can be. It gives the readers a look into a culture that many do not understand.…

    • 657 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays