Body Ritual Among The Nacirema

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Sociology 204 “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” By Horace Miner Report #1 In America, we tend to use ethnocentricity and I feel comfortable saying that most Americans feel that what we do is better than others. In the short reading “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema”, the culture of a very different group of people is described. The piece is a personal narrative. The author has experimented with the Nacirema, a group which lives in various areas in North America. This group has many customs and traditions that we as Americans wouldn’t even think of; they drill holes in one’s teeth if they have none, then a certain medicine is put into these holes which is said to reduce tooth decay. They also believe that the human body is ugly and that its natural tendency is to debility and disease. As a result, they have shrines devoted to the purpose of averting these characteristics. All in all, their culture is to improve the body & mind through ritual practices and traditional beliefs. I think that the article really describes the Nacirema’s culture well and helps the reader understand the diversity of their culture. After reading this passage, I feel a couple questions were unanswered: first of all, if they realize that tooth decay still occurs, then why do they continue their savage practices of mouth-rite? Another outstanding question I am left standing with is why exactly do they require gifts for so many things?, even the deathly ill must give a precious gift to be treated by a medicine man.. Cultural relativism is described as trying to understand a culture under it’s own terms (page 38 in the text). In cultures such as the Nacirema’s, we must really use this cultural relativism to fully understand the meaning of their cultural traditions, ceremonies, and customs. I also believe that many of the things that they are still doing reflect cultural lag. They
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