The Nacirema: Another Look Written by Horace Miner, this essay of the people group Nacirema is an interesting look at their everyday functions.
The tribe Miner describes is seemingly primal and uncivilized, and yet somewhat familiar. The entire account of these mysterious people describes unusual and strange behaviors and activities. The brief overview on the Nacirema is graphic from Miner’s point of view. When the meaning of the story becomes clear, the purpose for writing it becomes either humor or disdain. In this article written by Miner, he describes the tribe of the Nacirema vividly and descriptively.
The Nacirema are a tribe known for only twenty years. When they were discovered there was almost no information on them. They are a North American tribe that exists between the Canadian Cree, the Yaqui and Tarahumare of Mexico, and the Carib and Arawak of the Antilles (Miner). This area, with further investigation, is the area of the United States of America.
The location alone causes the reader to be alert for Miner’s motives. The Nacirema are unique followers of the market system, and live in a rich natural habitat. This primitive market system takes up much of the inhabitant’s time. However the people spend a large block of time in daily ritual activity.
This tribe does not worship the soul like prominent religions but they worship the body. They believe the body is ugly and prone to injury and sickness. So to alleviate the problem they perform many rituals and ceremonies. In each home there is a ritual center where these actions take place. These centers are so important that all wealthier tribesmen have more than one. The shrines are located in the family home but the performance of .
. es, his point is well taken. If his purpose is a tongue in cheek look at our culture and ourselves, job well done. If his purpose is to criticize and discredit a successful culture, exception is taken. If nothing else is gleaned from this article, when we look at the “Nacirema”, American spelled backwards, we learn to have a more forgiving attitude when viewing other cultures we are unfamiliar with.
Rituals that appear barbaric, or even silly can and most probably have a logical purpose within that particular people group. This change in the prevailing American attitude will go far to mend the fences that have been broken and heal the bonds of cooperation all without the need of a “latipso” (hospital). Works CitedMiner, Horace. “Body Ritual among the Nacirema, American Anthropolgist 58:3,June 1956. Rpt., <http://www.msu.edu~Ejdowell/miner.html>