The Body Rituals of the Nacirema
Read the article and answer the following questions in paragraph format:
1) Some would say that Miner’s analysis exoticizes the Nacirema and makes them seem mysterious and irrational. What in his writing dose this? Does presenting customs as “religion” rather that as “science” or “medicine” inevitably make them seem irrational to people in our own culture? Are our own customs with respect to care of the body irrational? In what ways is scientific medicine different from other (“religious”) belief systems? How much of what human beings do in everyday life is “rational” or “irrational”?
2) Contemporary anthropologists are concerned about “the problem of representation.” They are concerned about who gets to “represent” a group of people, by writing about them, documenting, filming, and interpreting their behavior. What are the ethical/moral implications of speaking “for” or representing a group of people from a different culture that is not your own? For example, can an outsider represent your culture and should they have the right to speak about it “scientifically” or “anthropologically”? How might their story be distorted?
3) When did you get the joke? Who are the “Nacirema” and what point is the author making?