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Literature Study GuidesBody Ritual Among The Nacirema

Body Ritual Among the Nacirema | Study Guide

Horace Mitchell Miner

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Horace Mitchell Miner

Year Published





Nonfiction, Satire

At a Glance

"Body Ritual among the Nacirema" is an anthropological satire focused on the Nacirema people, a fictional North American tribe. The essay was published in the June 1956 edition of American Anthropologist. The tribe focuses its attention on the human body, including its appearance and health, both of which are considered inadequate by the Nacirema. The Nacirema treat the ills of their bodies through magical rituals and ceremonies, which are written so as to seem extreme and bizarre to outsiders reading the text. Nacirema is American spelled backward. Miner uses the fictionalized group to speak scientifically about American practices, as though they are being studied by an outside anthropologist. Although it is not a formal anthropological study, "Body Ritual among the Nacirema" is commonly read and discussed in anthropology courses as a basic—albeit light—introduction to anthropological study, ethnocentrism, and cultural relativism, as well as to basic ideas of similarity and difference among cultures.

Perspective and Narrator

"Body Ritual among the Nacirema" is written in the third person, from the perspective of a social anthropologist describing the "Nacirema" culture.

About the Title

"Body Ritual among the Nacirema" identifies and describes the defining feature of the Nacirema people—attitudes about the body. The word ritual in the title emphasizes the idea that the Nacirema are a tribe with superstitious beliefs and magical practices.


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