Nacirema - Body Ritual in Anthropology

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Anthropology Paper - Module 1 In 1956 a professor from the University of Michigan, Horace Miner, wrote an article in The American Anthropologist that has become a mainstay of learning for anthropology students. Miner published the article to show a fictional exotic society called “Body Ritual among the Nacirema” as an example of how one’s own limited perspective might affect the perception of a foreign culture (Miner, 1956, p. 503). The article uses subtle humor to make the reader more comfortable in examining cultural behaviors, physical appearance, and health as the reader soon discovers that the actual society being examined is the American society. To the reader, the article begins to sound very familiar after each paragraph is…show more content…
For Miner, he was writing from his years of personal observation of American homes, but often the anthropologist is not already a member of the community to be studied and must develop a rapport within a community. This relationship must be created without being deceptive and creating a negative impression so that members of the community will act naturally and not suppress their habitual or instinctive reaction to life issues (Kawulich, 2005). This method collects data not only from personal observation but also includes interviews, natural conversations, checklists, and surveys. The effective use of this method includes having a nonjudgmental attitude, being aware of culture shock tendencies, wanting to learn more about others, and practicing good listening skills (Kawulich, 2005). When the anthropologist properly explores the organized routines and ritualistic behaviors of the group, they become becomes a part of the community and reports the information about how the group is operating from a holistic understanding of the viewed events. Anthropologists also have various theories to help support and direct a study. One such theory attributed to Alfred Radcliffe Brown of Great Britain is known as structural functionalism (Clure, 2011). The primary focus of structural functionalism theory is social structure rather than the biological relations of individuals in a culture. The social construction and levels of this theory
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