The author’s purpose 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 others to see that the way studies were representing distinctive cultures was narrowminded and defective. Without the proper comprehension of the basis of any society, huge cultural misunderstandings could occur. Of
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Through the “chests built into walls” or cabinets full of medicine, most of which are used once and stowed away, Miner can describe the underlying need of the “Nacirema” people to be consumed by their health. Most people hoard these medicines, creams and tonics out of the fear that they may once again be necessary and, at the same time, hope they won’t.
Holism is not a concept lost on Horice Miner. What he was trying to convey in his article was that you cannot just take a glimpse of another culture and expect to understand it. In order to appreciate other cultures you need to submerge yourself in that culture and be conscious of every aspect of the culture to fully grasp an understanding of it. Miner’s satirical interpretation of the American cultures was meant to prove that without the in depth knowledge of a cultures beliefs and structure, there’s no way to make sense of even basic customs. The first two chapters of Miller’s Cultural Anthropology in a Globalizing World are meant to define and explain what cultural anthropology is and how to properly conduct research. Horace Miner’s article attempts to do the same thing with an entirely different approach. Instead of saying outright that the way previous research had been carried out was misrepresenting entire populations of people, he decided to take an anthropological look at a well known culture from an