A well-known anthropologist Horace Miner has conducted a research on the community called the Nacirema, which was originated in North America. The main focus of the research was made on the body rituals of the Nacirema, which then becomes the title of his work. According to Horace (1956) fundamental belief of the Nacirema is that a human body is weak and imperfect, irresistant to many diseases. He believes that in order to maintain a true potential of a body, the Nacirema performs several rituals, which distinct with their cruel and harsh nature. However, it was revealed that the article has a satirical genre as a mysterious tribe Nacirema is actually was the American. It was devoted to anthropologists who have looked at the tribes from a position of hierarchical observer. The paper will focus on describing and analyzing the language, style, implications and their purpose.
First of all, the author gives several implicit arguments, but the main one is that anthropologist should not look at undeveloped societies from the position of hierarchical observer (Horace, 1956, 507). He mentions Malinowski (1948) who argued that people who should not look from the above. Without trials and errors of the ancients men would not be able to achieve high stage of development.
Secondly, the chosen language is very specific which confuses the readers who could not easily realize that they are reading about the Americans. All modern words were replaced with words such as “ritual, rite, temple, exorcism” which make you believe that you are reading about an ancient tribe. Another interesting aspect of the article is that the author tries to show the Nacirema in a nasty way, for example, makes an emphasis on performing non-human actions, i.e. scraping faces, baking heads, mouth-rites , which turn out to be shaving, haircut and teeth clean.(ibid, 505)
Secondly, the style of the article is narrative. The author concentrates on particular actions and tries to describe them, showing the stages of performing. The author says that a word “shrine”, used instead of “rest room”, and its function was told him by establishing rapport with the natives. It misguides the readers because after reading this they would think that the information about rituals performed in shrines is very valuable for anthropology and would not think of it as a rest room(ibid, 503)
In conclusion, through this article Horace wanted to tell modern anthropologist who usually disrespect the tribes that they are people like our fathers used to be. Even though the article can not be taken seriously as academic rapport as it has a satiric genre, it can help us to think deeply about our life and what we do. May be for someone we are undeveloped.
Horace, Miner. 1956. “Body Ritual among the Nacrema”. American Anthropologist 58(3): 503-507
Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1948. Magic, Science, and Religion. Glenoe: The Free Press