INTSOCI:Body Rituals of the Nacirema

Clyde Marc L. Garcia       

  1. This article relates about the culture of the Nacirema. It emphasizes their way of taking care of personal appearance, or the way in which somebody is, treating sickness and perception about beauty.  Much of their time is dedicated to economic pursuits and big portions of the day are spent in ritual activities. The concentration of these activities is the human body. The Nacirema believed that body is ugly and its tendency is weakness and diseases. They believe that, the only hope to avoid is to use rituals and ceremony. Every household devote one or more shrine to be used in ritual and ceremony. More powerful individuals in the society have several shrines in their houses. The wealth of a house is determined in the number of rituals centers it possesses.  The rituals are not family ceremonies but private and secret. The rights are normally discussed with children but only during the period when they are initiated in these mysteries. They believe that they cannot live without their charms and potions.Compare the body rituals of Nacirema and our practices at present.
  2. The daily body ritual performed by everyone in Nacirema includes a mouth rite. This ritual consist of inserting a small bundle of hag hairs into the mouth, along with a certain magical powders, and then moving the bundle in a highly formalize series of gestures. In addition, they seek out a holy-mouth-man once or twice a year.
  3.             In comparison with our daily body ritual now we brush our teeth at least two times a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste to avoid plaques and decays. We seek the service of a dentist when we have holes in our teeth to fill the tooth cavities. Likewise, we go to the dental clinic for our general check-up and cleaning every three months.
  4.             The medicine men of the Nacirema may be compared to the Medical Doctors of our time; if patients go to the doctors they are obliged to pay money in return to the service of the doctor fro prescribing medicine to the patient.Analyze the Nacirema culture by using Sociological theories.
  5. The cultures, tradition and beliefs of the Nacirema may seem strange to others but it is perfectly normal for them. This is based on the sociological theory where culture is subjective from place to place. For example, the act of lacerating the face is an important tradition practice by the male members in order to be more attractive to the opposite even though the person outside their culture would see it as very barbaric.  Also the act of going to the lapitso where Nacirema tribesmen have to pay a large sum to be ritually treated for sickness is considered actual medicine for them while being fake for others.  

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