Life Among The Nacirema

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Professor Horace Miner first brought the Nacirema of Asu to the attention of anthropologists in the 1950's. They are a North American group that lives between the Canadian Cree, and the Carib and Arawak of the Antilles. Some say that their people are on the road to self-destruction because of their key values and beliefs, other say they still have along way to go; regardless, the society is filled with rich, sometimes shocking, customs and strange magical rituals that have fascinated anthropologists for years.

Of course one's beauty is determined by how their body image is perceived by others. The Nacirema take this one step further. As Miner said: "The fundamental belief underlying the whole system appears to be that the human body is ugly." A main philosophy of the Nacirema is that the human body is debilitated and unsightly. They believe that it has a tendency to become abnormal and diseased if the correct rituals are not preformed daily.

The Nacirema are convinced that man is trapped inside of the suffering material body and each person must free themselves with the ceremonial traditions. These include elaborate daily rituals that the person must perform, for instance the rituals of the shrine room. (Which I will discuss later on.)

If someone has a body that is considered ugly, or over or under weight the Nacirema often conclude it is due to a mistake in that persons rituals. Therefore the person deserved to be disfigured and they are deemed an outcaste. There are few cases where an unsightly or flawed person is allowed to become one with the normal community. About 5% of the population fast to the point of starvation (sometimes to their own death)They do this as an effort to mutilate the bodies appearance.

However, even if the are not excepted by the group, most people with ugliness in their bodies form bonds, friendships, and communities with each other. If a "normal  person joins the outcastes, he m

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