Estelle Kennelly Body Rituals of the Nacirema Analysis Horace Miners article Body Ritual among the Nacirema offers great insight into the relevance of Anthropology to modern society by way of satire. The article characterizes the
Nacirema people of North America, “discovered” by Miner, and their perceived obsession with the human body. The author claimed to analyze rites and rituals among the Nacirema people.
Upon realizing that the word Nacirema read backwards is American, it was easy to deduct that the article was in fact an elaborate description of American oral hygiene as well as a crude sketch of hospital and psychiatric care in our society. Miner detailed their rites and rituals from a purposely ethnocentric point of view which also served the purpose of describing American culture as viewed by an extreme outsider. He does this by describing every day affairs in the life of the average American as sacred practices of the Nacirema people. For example, he disguises brushing teeth as the
“mouth rite”, prescription medication as “potions”, which are prescribed by a doctor or
“medicine man”, and filled by a pharmacist or “herbalist”. He also describes a torturous visit to the dentist in his description of the “holy mouth man”. I f one were to observe the Nacirema’s beauty and health rituals without any insight into the values and practices of that culture, they might seem bizarre and even incomprehensible. With this article, Miner allowed others to see that the way certain cultures are portrayed could be narrow minded and defective For me this article is reminiscent of Benjamin Franklins essay the Savages of North
America, in which he observed how Native…