Analysis Of Body Rituals Of The Nacirema

1375 Words3 Pages

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 …show more content…

These kind of problematic elements the reader notes incite the initial spark of doubt or confusion on the true state of the Nacirema and the perhaps ethnocentric bias of Horace Miner in publishing his research. However, a closer inspection of the pattern in which Nacirema live creates a further spark of confusion as the reader will note this pattern eerily resembles that of the American way of life and the details of which precisely match the practices of the American people. The reader notes that the shrine room is indeed a conventional bathroom, the holy-mouthman a Dentist, and that Notgnihsaw is actually Washington and the Nacirema are the America spelled backwards. Interestingly, deeper analysis shows that Miner’s satire, rather than the American condition, is truly concerning the way in which Anthropologists observe peoples with an ethnocentric bias or a clear definition of a normal versus abnormal. Miner suggests that Anthropologists often enough write off any “abnormal” practices as having supernatural or religious rites without any real reason apart from their unfamiliarity rather than deducing the true meaning which is already present within the community. He shows this by naming tap water, dentists, and medicinal practice as holy water, holy-mouthman, and rituals. In the film Margaret Mead and the Samoa, taking the account of Derek Freedman, we saw how a common and familiar concept like teenage mischief could be easily overlooked and evidenced as some culturally significant practice or law for a population simply due to the bias and “othering” of the peoples by the Anthropologist as was with Dr. Margaret Mead and the sexuality of the girls of Samoa.

Open Document