In Horace Miner’s “Body Ritual among the Nacirema. ” the reader is introduced to an interesting group called the Nacirema. whose civilization is so described and dissected in really tribal and crude footings. At first. it is ill-defined as to where or how this civilization exists under the guidelines and patterns and beliefs its society maintains ; but. the reader shortly discovers. with contextual hints and a spot of chew overing. that Nacirema is really American civilization. Miner uses originative contextual hints and enunciation to confound the reader. allowing the find and sarcasm push his intent. every bit good as allow contemplation on how certain societies tend to inaccurately perceive foreign states similar to Nacirema. The intent of Nacirema is to depict and present unusual facets of American civilization “as an illustration of the extremes to which human behaviour can travel. ” Using Nacirema to sociological intents. Nacirema applies these over-exaggerated cultural imposts with tribal enunciation to let the audience to see American civilization from a foreign point of view.
To get down off. Miner’s article is improbably elusive. from the “rituals” to their specific inside informations. Had the audience non caught on from the backwards “American” to organize Nacirema and tried to work out each pattern as it was discussed. they were in for rather a confusing. yet fascinating narrative ( being basically the full aim! ) . His amplified illustrations of simple American patterns. from hospital visits to shaving. all seems highly eccentric and unusual due to the tribal enunciation and hyperbole. For illustration. Miner describes the act of brushing one’s dentitions as “a ritual consisting of infixing a little package of pig hairs into the oral cavity. along with certain charming pulverizations. and so traveling the package in a extremely formalistic series of gestures” ( p. 504 ) . Miner besides confuses the reader by writhing the statements and behaviours of the Nacirema civilization ; for illustration. he writes “They [ Nacirema ] besides believe that a strong relationship exists between unwritten and moral features. For illustration. there is a ritual ablution of the oral cavity for kids which is supposed to better their moral fiber” ( p. 504 ) . How could the reader perchance guess that Miner was speaking about rinsing out a child’s oral cavity to forestall them from stating bad words. with no anterior analysis?
Continuing treatment of the illustrations. Miner likes to concentrate on use of different callings within a society. such as physicians. nurses. tooth doctors. and even head-shrinkers. He writes “This witch-doctor has the power to exorcize the Satans that lodge in the caputs of people who have been bewitched… The counter-magic of the witch-doctor is unusual in its deficiency of ritual. The patient merely tells the “listener” all his problems and frights. get downing with the earliest troubles he can remember… It is non uncommon for the patient to deplore the rejection he felt upon being weaned as a baby. and a few persons even see their problems traveling back to the traumatic effects of their ain birth” ( p. 506 ) . How could this non do the reader to reassess a common pattern as some kind of irrelevant. tribal bunk? And eventually. to make Nacirema’s sense of enigma and a story-like tone. Miner Tells of the backstory in detecting and analysing Nacirema utilizing Professor Linton as a character and giving a obscure location of the Nacirema civilization through a qualitative research position.
The intent of Nacirema was to demo how common American behaviours and beliefs can look charming and cockamamie by depicting them as if they were tribal behaviours. Miner tactfully does so through his sarcasm. although it may non look as evident at first glimpse. For illustration. he states “The cardinal belief underlying the whole system appears to be that the human organic structure is ugly and that its natural inclination is to infirmity and disease” ( p. 503 ) . when it’s truly merely stating Americans spend excessively much clip and money on their organic structures. Another illustration is when he talk of this “magical shrine” in which each household of Nacirema has. where they maintain charming appeals and healing potions that allow them to populate. “As these charming stuffs are specific for certain ailments. and the existent or imagined maladies of the people are many. the charm-box is normally full to overruning. The charming packages are so legion that people forget what their intents were and fright to utilize them again” ( p. 504 ) . Peoples stockpile old medical specialties. typically burying what they were even for. but hoard them in the instance they might necessitate them once more. All that to state Americans they have excessively much medical specialty! The point of sarcasm is to makes merriment of people’s failings. errors. folly. and incorrect behaviours. The consequence of sarcasm is societal unfavorable judgment ; in other words. a sarcasm criticizes the manner people do things. Satire is seeking to do society better by indicating out where it is incorrect in a amusing manner.
Basically. Miner pokes merriment at common American patterns. Why is this utile? Why is this studied? Well. the manner Miner describes Nacirema. doing it out to be some tribal society that believes in thaumaturgy and eldritch rites. is unfortunately how many people view foreign civilizations they don’t precisely understand. specifically American civilization. The point in demoing how Professor Linton described brushing teeth as a rite of traveling around a package of pig hair in the oral cavity is to demo how easy it is for one society to misperceive a common pattern in another civilization. This shows that merely because qualitative research is obtained. doesn’t mean it straight and accurately interprets behaviours and beliefs. Another misperception is that because the other culture’s patterns are non the norm of the reader’s society. that the reader’s civilization is the normal one. or even superior to the “tribe. ” This illustration of ethnocentrism merely leads to planetary favoritism and misconceived perceptual experiences of other civilizations. By supplying the chance for Americans to reflect upon their ain cultural relativism. Miner allows them. every bit good as all civilizations. to see how to keep an unfastened head when acquisition and accepting new and unknown civilizations. as they can merely as easy view other societies as folks that ritualistically classy pig hair in their oral cavities.
Horace Miner. “Body Ritual among the Nacirema. ” American Anthropologist 58 ( 1956 ) : 503-507.