Horace Miners Body Ritual among the Nacirema Analysis

Document Type:Essay

Subject Area:Sociology

Document 1

The Nacirema are a group of people in North America living in a territory between the Creel the Yaqui of Canada and Mexican Tarahumare and the Antilles' Arawak and Carib (Miner, 503). According to the author, the Nacirema community presents a market economy that is highly developed but the main focus is on rituals, which lay emphasis on the human body and its health and physical appearance. The Nacirema people believe that the human body is detestable and ugly and its uncleanliness can only be avoided through ceremonies and rituals. I believe that the author's purpose in writing the article was not to indicate the extremities of human behavior by using the Nacirema as an example but to reveal to the readers how an external perspective affects one's perception of an alien culture.

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If one was to pay attention to the Nacirema's cultural behaviors relating to health and physical appearance, without any knowledge of the culture's specific values and beliefs, they might seem to be extremely incomprehensible and bizarre. For instance, the Nacirema obtain important portions from experienced medicine men but they do not receive the medicines directly from them. Instead, they get a piece of paper from the medicine men, which is written in a secret language and takes to the herbalists who offer the portions (Miner, 504). Doesn’t that sound quite familiar? Besides, the medicine men require substantial gifts in order to prescribe the portions. The modern healthcare system also requires substantial gifts (in terms of money) for one to receive medical services.

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