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Nacerima Reaction Paper

809 words - 4 pages

Anthropologists study the behavior of various cultures and societies and try to understand why they believe and practice certain rituals. In the article Body Ritual Among The Nacirema, by Horace Miner and published by The American Anthropologist, the author describes extreme examples of ritual activity that focus on the human body. The Nacirema believe that the body is ugly, diseased, debilitated and in need of help from their local medicine men, "holy-mouth-men", and "listener" witchdoctor. Even though some of the practices are barbaric, I can relate some of the rituals to our own modern society. Economics is a large part of the ritual process.

As a highly economic society, the Nacirema ...view middle of the document...

Nacirema also go to the holy -mouth-man twice a year for torture with objects that exorcise evil, enlarges any holes from decay, and fills it with magical materials. Is this not the same thing we do annually when we visit the dentist? The modern drills and probes can seem like torture to anyone having work done on their teeth. In my opinion, the appointments made by the Nacirema may be more a social obligation to make sure they have friends. No matter how bad the mouth is, if the native is very sick they must save gifts to be taken to the temple of the medicine men.

The ceremonies performed by the medicine men are harsh and some sick natives do not recover. Many Nacirema feel "that is where you go to die", the latipso. Gifts are required for admission and again before the native is allowed to leave. The description of admission practices seem similar to when modern citizens go to the hospital. Clothes are taken away, bodily function samples are taken to access the illness, and procedures are assisted by vestal maidens. The article implies that the ceremonies are painful and not necessarily helpful. It seems that the formal body movements, magically treated needles, and force feeding by the maidens can be related to modern day hospitals. Even though the technology is worlds apart, nurses, doctors, and physical therapists all do the similar...

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