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Unformatted text preview: Margaret Derby The daily rituals of the Nacirema people are certainly different from our own today. They value the health and beauty of the human body above all things, except money. The Nacirema people spend a great deal of their time working to collect gifts in order to spend these gifts on their daily rituals, which are focused mainly on the healing and cleansing of the body. Each household has a shrine, which every day they bow before, cleansing themselves with holy water and various other techniques. Each day they perform a mouth-rite, to protect the mouth which the Nacirema people value as the most important part of the human body. They believe the mouth defines all the social relations of a person, as well as act as the moral compass of the human. They seek out a medicine man and a holy-mouth-man once or twice a year where they are poked, prodded, and forced to eat or perform acts that cause more harm to themselves rather than help. Yet, the Nacirema fully believe in the power of these specialists and are quick to offer large gifts in order to receive their “care”. Just by studying these daily rituals we are able to get a good understanding of the Nacierma society, what they believe, and what they value. They believe in upholding tradition, which is evident in the fact that they continue to perform these rituals and seek out these specialists despite the fact that they are not getting any better and are consistently undergoing painful treatments. We can also see that they are a masochistic society, because they perform these painful acts on themselves. There is also a bit of sadism in the community too, since the article says the doctors get a “gleam in the eye … as he jabs an awl into an exposed nerve” (505). The fact that payment for these services is expected and even demanded is a similarity between the Nacirema culture and our culture today. The importance of money and the social hierarchies caused by it exist in our society too. Although the extreme masochistic rituals of the Nacirema society seem so morally wrong to us, I think that by practicing cultural relativism you can easily understand why they would continue to use them. ...
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- Spring '08