Reading Review, “Body Ritual among the Nacirema

May 22, 2011 § 6 Comments

In review of the article “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” by Horace Miner, this was a very satirical piece on how Native Americans had a very ritualistic approach towards many religious ceremonies and how they interacted with each other at these ceremonies.

Horace Miner brought up very appalling view points about the native Americans. The way he worded his synopsis of his studies was very dark and oppressive. Almost making the foreigners to him seem animalistic. When in real life they were doing things such as going to the doctor and getting their teeth cleaned but since he did not know the tools they were using it was foreign to him.

This makes me wonder what I actually see in other cultures to be foreign or domestic. I may go to another country in a remote place and see very odd things and maybe be shocked but to those people it is the proven science to survival for them. Also in the satirical aspect of this paper it makes me think of how we should look at people.

After reading through the article it seemed that the anthropologist went into this looking for something out of the ordinary. In studying each person seems to look and key on the interesting facts, but if you look to hard and over exaggerate it seems to imbelish what was actually happening.

So actually it seems that even though this article was satirical in its purpose it over eggagerated the tools and purposes of medicine practices then and made people appear to be something that they actually were not.


§ 6 Responses to Reading Review, “Body Ritual among the Nacirema

  • ethnolust says:

    Nice review. It’s important to remember that Miner’s article was not about Native Americans (that’s a pretty diverse group, and he wasn’t exactly talking about Native Americans). In this case, the Nacirema are Americans. You’re right to think that he may have gone out of his way to make things like brushing teeth sound especially foreign.

    At the same time, I’d like to challenge you (and others writing about the Nacirema) to think about how strange our daily acts can be to other people.

  • reviewethno says:

    I can remember reading about this article in my Intro to Cultural Anthropology class. It was eye-opening to read “Body Ritual among the Nacirema”, and truly realize how ethnocentric our culture can be. Great review, it’s awesome to see how your writing has improved!

  • Alan says:

    Yeah, definitely not about Native Americans.

    Also, if you look at the reference to Malinowski’s article at the end of Miner’s article, you will get a hint as to why Miner wrote this piece: a bit of a jab at a fellow scholar it would seem.

  • Phoenix says:

    This piece was definitely not about Native Americans, it was about AMERICANS (Naciremas), themselves. One of the many purposes of the piece was to make the reader who may be an American him/herself, to step outside of themselves and imagine how others look at us, and the things that we consider “normal”. We are often far too quick to criticize the typical day-to-day activities of other cultures, especially those who we feel are less evolved than ours, not ever considering that these things are normal to them, and have worked for them for many generations.
    It also entices the reader to take a look at how self indulged the American culture is. Everything we do is revolved around the way we look and how to enhance it. From the daily ritual of brushing our teeth, to altering features on our bodies we aren’t quite satisfied with.

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