Jacqueline Toledo Moreno
Body Ritual Among the Nacirema The Nacirema is a North American group based in the United States, little is known of their origin, according to Nacirema mythology, their nation was originated by a culture hero, Notgnihsaw. Its cultured is characterized by a highly develop market economy which has evolved in a rich natural habitat. Their rituals are a very important; its elaborated process takes much of their time in a daily basis. Such rituals are looked at being of extreme human behavior, for example, each house has a shrine where those rituals are performed in privacy, there’s a box in the shrine full of magical potions to aid in the rituals, those magic ingredients are only administered by a medicine man (magician), each person of the household performs a brief ablution (washing of the hands and/or body). Men practice laceration to their faces with sharp objects, women don’t do as often as men but they don’t lack of barbaric behavior of putting their heads in an oven for an hour (Harvey, C., & Allard, M. (2012).
In the Nacirema culture there is a powerful attraction or enchantment with the symbols between the mouth and an individual’s morals. In making these visits to the holy mouth-men, it is believed that the Nacirema will draw people toward them, as well as stop the deterioration of their teeth. The author also writes about Professor Linton’s explanation of the profession of the ‘listener’ among the Nacirema people. As the given name says, this individual listens to the troubles/fears of a person beginning with the earliest recollection of their life, and performs counter-magic to ease or do away with the fears. Within the community there is the temple of the latipso, where the severely ill go to be stripped of their clothing and have exaggerated ceremonies performed by not only a magician, but group(s) of vestal maidens assisting the magician(s). The overall assumption of the Nacirema people is that they have a belief that the body is ugly, and through the daily activities of the rituals performed on the body, will bring satisfaction and meaning to their life (Martin, n.d.). "Body Ritual among the Nacirema" does just that. It enables us to see our own world, the one with which we believed we could only see from our own perspective, in an entirely different way (Rowan, 2012).
Nacirema is American spelled backwards. Though its lessons are many, Miner's paper on the Nacirema was a farcical study written primarily to satirize anthropological papers written about other cultures and to shine a light in their side. In reality, he was writing about 1950s America and many of our obsessive bodily rituals and customs, ones that can certainly be deemed peculiar and backwards simply by describing them using different language. How strange this "other" culture looks and sounds like, we muse superiorly (Steinberg, 2013).
What stereotypes could you have about the Nacireman culture and its people if this reading were your only source of information?
I was confused after reading the article, the wording was a challenge. Right after reading this case I was stunned as how some cultures behaved, how extreme they can go for vanity. They’re barbaric in their rituals, they are magic-ridden people, meaning witch and evil related beliefs, demonstration of sadistic behavior at its best.
The many strange and interesting rituals observed by Miner lead him to conclude that the nacirema have a strong underlying belief about the human body. What is this belief?
The human body is ugly and that its natural tendency is to debility and disease.
Assume that you are carrying on the work of Miner and study the Nacireman culture as it exists now in the 21st century. a. what additional body-related activities could you observe in their culture today? In our society there are tons of body related activities and rituals such as plastic surgery,