Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Five words describing the Nacirema (American's of the 50's)

  1. Ritualistic-as mentioned by Miner a large portion of the day in the life of these people is spent performing rituals. I would even venture to say that the Nacirema's life is consumed by rituals.Where did these rituals come from? I imagine that they were developed over time and passed down from generation to generation.
  2. Fraught-It seems that so many of rituals are performed to prevent any sort of illness or problem that the life as a Nacirema may be somewhat overbearing. “It is hard to understand how they have managed to exitst so long under the burdens which they have imposed upon themselves." There are the mouth rituals, the latispo, and the ritual fast to make fat people thin and ceremonial feast to make thin people fat.
  3. Reticent-in many aspects, the Nacirema are a secretive people. There is the certain ritual with the shrine that is performed privately and is only discussed with children when first being initiated. Also there is the secret language of the medicine men. 
  4. Specialized-The Nacirema have dedicated roles for example the medicine men, holy mouth men, vestal maidens, the "listener". It is my belief that specialization indicates many decades or more of "evolution" or  gradual change which in turn generates these specialized social roles.
  5. Self conscious-All of the rituals are performed to maintain ones appearance and health. In the article in states that this is not unusual but the philosophy are unique. It mentions that women will have never seen there husband in an excretory act until after entering the latipso. As well as the fact that their society has "general dissatisfaction with breast shape" and it is said that the "ideal form is virtually outside the range of human variation."
Horace Miner
1956 Body Ritual of the Nacerima. American Anthropological Association
-S. Fulton

1 comment:

  1. I understand that you dont feel you've used any words that were ethnocentric but I think you did. The words may have not been ill will but they were judgemental. You thought the Nacerima were ritualistic, that's misjudging. If you were asked to judge us as Americans, I believe ritualistic would not me one of your words. But because we didn't understand what was going on, that's how we decribed them. I'm glad you are the type of person that choose not to use words you feel are ethnocentric. I don't know if I can. I will always try but I know sometimes that things that I've dealt with in my life, will have some affect on my thoughts.

    Sayom M.