NACIREMA BODY RITUALS

The term Nacirema according to Horace Miner is American spelled backwards. He adopted a satirical way of describing the culture of the American people in terms of the practices that they undertake so as to ensure good health and cleanliness of their bodies. Listed below are some of the body rituals.

  1. There is an “imposing temple” (laptiso) where the very sick go. Despite the “harsh” ceremonies involved and the cost of a “rich gift”, Nacirema adults are willing to undergo these ceremonies even though there is no guarantee of a cure.

The above body ritual relates to the very sick people are taken to the hospital for medical treatment. Despite the fact that the medical treatment may be uncomfortable and expensive, the American adults have no choice but to continue seeking the medical treatment which does not guarantee a cure for the illnesses.

Ethnocentric position: Visiting the hospital for medical treatment is a basic element that ensures proper health and safety leading to prolonged life.

Cultural relativism position: Hospitals may not be the only place where people can receive treatment whenever they are sick. Medical attention can be attained even when one is at home and they are taking the right medicines.

  1. In the shrine, there is a built-in chest of “many charms and magical potions”. These charms and potions are not easy to come by, obtained from two different practioners and require “substantial gifts” before they are given

This body ritual is translated as the existence of chest in the bathroom with prescriptions and medicines which are obtained from the pharmacists under the prescription of the doctors. The medicines are usually costly.

Ethnocentric position: The best items for cleaning the body must be prescribed by the doctor and they are expensive and only the American people can access them with ease.

Cultural relativism position: Items used for cleaning the body do not have to be issued by the pharmacists under the prescription of the doctor. They can as well be obtained over the counter and the costs vary based on the ability to pay.

  1. The Nacirema seem to be opposed to their bodies – fat people are made thinner through “ritual fasts” while thin people are made fatter through “ceremonial feasts”.

The American people are generally not satisfied with their body shapes and sizes and the trend is more among the women. As a result, the people either eat a lot of food or fast so that they can gain their desired body shapes and sizes.

Ethnocentric position: There is a specific standard of body shape and size that every American must strive to maintain.

Cultural relativism position: Body shapes tend to vary based on various attributes and people are comfortable with their various body shapes irrespective of the variations. Hence there is no standard shape and size.

  1. The Nacirema also have a “listener”. He or she helps exorcise devils from the heads of those who have been bewitched by letting their patient talk of the difficulties he or she has faced.

The above ritual means that the American people may at times visit a counselor or a psychiatrist who are able to listen to them as they share their problems.

Ethnocentric position: counselor or psychiatrists are good listeners who help people with their personal problems.

Cultural relativism position: sharing personal problems with the counselors or psychiatrist does not guarantee solution. The solution depends on the mentality of the person.

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