Body Rituals Of The Black By Horace Miner Essay

Body Rituals Of The Black By Horace Miner Essay

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In Body Rituals of the Nacirema, Horace Miner demonstrates through his study of the North American tribe Nacirema that “attitudes about the body” have a significant influence of human behavior within the people and can give a glimpse into some of the most extreme behaviours humans can reach. He argues that the beliefs and practices of the Nacirema, which have a sort of magical connotation, are so bizarre that members assume an extreme in human behavior is very easily within their community. The Nacirema, a North American tribe of people whose origins are ambiguously tracked to some place within the continent, are a people who practice rituals incessantly on the basis of the human body, perceived negative aspects of the body, and countering such aspects. Miner describes a people who believe the human body to be “ugly” and any modification or ritual they see fit to counteract this belief is implemented religiously over their entire lifetime. We are first introduced to the Nacirema as a people having a great hero, Notgnihsaw, who in folklore is supposed to have cut down a home of the “Spirit of Truth”, the Cherry tree, and is said to have amicable strength as he threw a wampum (silver bead) across a river. Miner explains the Nacirema are a people living in a well-developed economy where they labour and use their earnings to practice rituals on their bodies which consumes most of their day to complete. These rituals included members of each family bowing before shrines every morning, rinsing with holy water, inserting hog hairs in their mouths and moving it around in a sophisticated motion and performing ablutions on adults and children alike. These rituals also included the charm-box, a chest in the wall holding man units of magical ...


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...lve into research with an agenda? Perhaps with a political agenda to outcast a certain group or persons from one’s own community? It is well known that such conclusions can be drawn from many historical incidents such as the censoring of the Native American Peoples’ practices, the numerous Anti-Semitic movements of the world and European imperialism, even extending to some films and literature. Also, why and how are religious/spiritual rites and beliefs difficult to decipher from simple social norms and values in societies in which the Anthropologist is freshly introduced? How can this be empirically decoded into a formal process of observation so as to prevent the occurrence of the mistakes that Miner describes? Answering questions like these I believe, is critical to truly and objectively understanding a culture not of our own without assigning meanings beforehand.

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