Nacirema culture is characterized by the hardworking and rich people who live in the natural habitat endowed with richness and spent most of their time in developing their economy in order to improve their lives’ status. They are very ritualistic in the way they do their routine tasks and natural functions such as men daily rite of shaving their beards, women rites of baking their hair four times a month, visiting their dentists twice a year, daily ablution of the face, bathing and excretory is ritually done in secret and even scheduled sexual intercourse.
Nacirema culture is a very civilized culture. The way they do, their things portray a very civilized society whose patients go to the hospitals to be treated by the special health professionals such as doctors, dentists, psychologists, and nurses. They also use clean treated water and detergents in daily cleanness. The culture also portray a healthy conscious society in the way they have ritualized their cleanness in their bathrooms, consider their bodies susceptible to diseases hence must be taken good care of, daily brushing of their teeth and going to dentist twice a year.
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Miner portrayed Nacirema culture from the uncivilized person point view because he could not describe what constitutes civilization; every aspect of the Nacirema culture was quite strange to him. Miner described health, cleanness and beauty very strange but the impression I got shows that Nacirema culture is a good culture which is sensitive to health matters and would like to live in that kind of society. Miner used strange descriptions such as priest treating water (water treatment plants), psychologist (Listener), sink (small font), and hospital (temple or laptipso).
Misunderstanding of the Nacirema culture can adversely affect their cultural image and portray their society behaviors and customs as very strange and complex. The first impression can depicts Nacirema culture as so ritualistic in their way of living because they go to shrines daily, women baking their hair, using holy water, talking to witchdoctors and many more strange descriptions of their rites. Characteristics of American culture share the same characteristics with the Nacirema culture because they are hardworking and rich, ritualistic in their daily routine, civilized in their living standards and are a healthy society. Miner’s description of Nacirema culture depicts them as strange and mysterious culture which lived long time ago before the dawn of civilization but viewing from the analytical point of view and understanding the miner’s language of description. Interpreting the strange descriptions of Nacirema culture portrays the positive culture of the society.
Cultural relativism is an anthropological approach that treats all cultures equally in their studies to provide a neutral point of view (Glazer, 1996). The importance of cultural relativism gives an in depth study of culture with a neutral eye in order to understand it at its own merit and not from the viewpoint of other cultures. Since cultural relativism is a scientific study of cultures, judgments are not considered as valid values that can be standardized and used in gauging varied cultures. The judgments such as good or bad, right or wrong are very subjective values that depends on cultures (Glazer, 1996). Without cultural relativism, the study of cultures will give biased and false opinion about other cultures by portraying other cultures as more or less evolved as others portray.
Glazer, M. (1996). Cultural Relativism.
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(1996). Body Ritual among the Nacirema. American Anthropological Association. Retrieved 22 Sept. 2010, from