Functional belief underlying Nacirema

The Nacirema – Discussion Board #1


Nare Petrousyan

1.The functional belief underlying Nacirema is that humans are trapped in both that are meant to be ill. Thus, being in the human body is as one will be ill of deadly diseases. The second underlying functional belief is that the human body is naturally ugly. Thus, to look beautiful and avoid deadly illnesses, one must engage in Nacirema body rituals (Horace, 1956).

2.In my opinion, the Nacirema ceremony is more of a ritual than behavior for several reasons. One, it is based on how it does it. This is not behavior as not everyone can do it. It is delegated by specialists and specific older adults among Nacirema.

3.Nacriem that the human body is ugly. This is why intense care and protection of it is necessary (Horace, 1956). This is quite different from our culture, where we believe we are wonderfully and fearfully made.

4.One thing that makes miner’s analysis of the Nacirema irrational is the analysis of the holy room. This is a room where special people do the special ritual. I think that performing normal customs as religions rather than scientific makes them quite irrational. For instance, using a medicine that was not prescribed to witch doctors directly made it irrational (Horace, 1956).

5.However, the care of the body in my religion is not irrational at all. There is nothing ritual in nature done in the protection of the body. Religiously, we believe in the power to get healed by drugs prescribed by the doctors. However, I do find it irrational for people who only take herds as drugs. These are people who do not believe in scientific drugs and thus prefer hubs.



Here’s 2 students discussion that i need comments for them


Diane Torres


1. Admittedly, I got the joke that the Nacirema are Americans early on. When I was reading about their geographic location I thought, “Wait, if these people pretty much span all the continental U.S. how have I never heard of them before?” So I quickly googled “Nacirema” and sort of spoiled it for myself. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the reading and found humor in it.

2. I think the point of Miner’s article was to make us aware of we view our own culture and how we view and describe others. From the outsider’s perspective, insight into the Nacirema culture is greatly limited due to how strange and unfamiliar it is presented as. Once we as readers realize that all these customs and rituals are just a part of our American culture, our view on the Nacirema as foreign and irrational changes and all of Miner’s descriptions begin to seem overexaggerated and pretty silly. I find that Americans, and the West in general, can be guilty of describing different cultures in a similar way to make them seem as exotic as possible. Just like this limits insight into the Nacirema, this limits our insight into different cultures.

Although exaggerated for satirical purposes, I found that Miner’s characterization of Americans as averse to their own natural bodies and processes as “odd” to be pretty accurate. I think even more so today, we as a culture find our own bodies “ugly” and are constantly trying to stray away from our natural form. Different kinds of plastic surgies, teeth whitening, fad diets, trends to change our hair, face, and skin are constantly advertised to us from a young age. Our obsession with our body’s appearance and “health” is particularly odd because a lot of the rituals we consider basic in maintaining hygiene or part of being human–brushing our teeth, using the toilet, reproduction–these are often not talked about, or considered somewhat taboo (except maybe in the context of advertising or TV.)




Natalie Arutunyan


Question 1: Miner argues that the functional beliefs underlying Nacirema body rituals are related to their concern with cleanliness and health. He suggests that these rituals are designed to purify the body and prevent illness. In addition, the community has several rituals that they believe are necessary for the health of the body and soul. These include the use of magical potions and ointments, the performance of ceremonies to purify the body, and the use of charms and amulets to protect the soul. The Nacirema consider the human body unpleasant and believe that disease and decay are their natural states (Miner, 1956). They believe the only way to prevent this is to perform rituals that cleanse, purify, and protect the body. These rituals are believed to be the only thing that can keep the body from being consumed by disease and decay. Furthermore, the Nacirema people have very interesting rituals regarding caring for their bodies. For instance, they believe that the human body is ugly and dirty; therefore, they must cleanse it regularly with special herbal potions.

One of the most important is the daily use of a magical substance called “unobtainium.” Unobtainium is obtained from animals’ bodies and is used to cleanse, purify, and protect the human body. The Nacirema also believe that the human soul is weak and easily corrupted (Miner, 1956). To prevent this, they perform several rituals designed to strengthen the soul. One of these is the “rites of passage,” which are ceremonies that mark an individual’s transition from one stage of life to another. In addition, the Nacirema have several other beliefs and practices concerning the human body, including using charms and amulets and avoiding certain body parts and fluids. However, the most notable belief is that the human body is inherently dirty and must be regularly cleansed through several rituals. Also, there are several different rituals that the Nacirema use to cleanse the body; however, the most important is the daily ritual of bathing. This ritual is important since it is usually done twice a day and often takes time. The Nacirema believe that the body must be scrubbed with a special soap from a magical tree’s ashes.

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