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ANTH102: Body Ritual among the Nacirema (American)
Terms in this set (11)
A named unilineal descent group, some of whose members are unable to trace how they are related, but who still believe themselves to be kinfolk.
The attitude or opinion that the morals, values, and customs of one's own culture are superior to those of other peoples.
The socially learned knowledge and patterns of behavior shared by some group of people.
(1) A set of acts, usually involving religion or magic, following a sequence established by tradition (Miner, 1956)
(2) Organized, stereotyped, symbolic behaviors intended to influence supernatural powers (Peoples & Bailey, 2009)
(3) Activities, including religious speech, ceremonies, and behaviors, that are demonstrations of belief (Bonvillain, 2006)
How do the Nacirema feel about the human body?
Human body is ugly and that its natural tendency is to debility and disease.
What does ritual reflect on in term of globally?
Throughout the world, ritual reflects the fundamental cultural beliefs and values of a society by giving order to important activities and particular life crises like death and birth.
Do you think that the charms and magical potions used by the Nacirema really work?
Some magical potions do not work based on two main reasons. Firstly, these potions do not work because some illnesses an individual believe to have are based on the imaginary of having a typical disease. Secondly, regardless of a short-term usefulness, the long-term prevention of the illness is impossible although the application of potions on a regular basis. E.g. people keep going to see dentists although their teeth continue to decay.
Can you list those aspects of social life in which magic plays an important role?
- Brush teeth regularly using toothpaste. If not, teeth would fall out, gums would bleed, jaws shrink. Consequently, friends desert them. Their lovers reject them.
- Rich people tend to get admitted to hospital while poor people are not always admitted based on their ability to pay medicines/doctors fee. Social inequality occurs as a result of different resources possession. (Hospital = magic temple)
- Secrecy of individual is revealed (such as the act of excretion) in front of people such as family members, nurses, doctors etc.
- (Rites) Medical procedure is specifically designed to enlarge small breasts or vice versa. However, dissatisfaction occurs because of the breast shape, which is symbolized in the ideal form that is virtually outside the range of human variation.
They also believe that a strong relationship exists between oral and moral characteristics. For example -
Children must learn to brush their teeth regularly. A disciplined child indicates good characters in term of moral fiber.
What is your opinion regarding the importance of body ritual? What would you say to Nacirema?
Instead of trying to rely on medicines (magic potions) and make-ups etc., rely on natural remedy and products such as eating fruits that are fresh (non-GMO) or doing exercises to keep/get fit.
Do you think the Nacirema themselves feel that their behaviors sometimes appear bizarre?
A few percentage of them will absolutely feel. However, most of them won't because human are social animals who tend to conform from the images or perspectives they are presented whether consciously or unconsciously via media (advertisements etc.).
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