The Nacirema As A Mirror of The Modern Consumer

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At first glance, the little-known Nacirema tribe of North America seemed to be no stranger than any other remote, exotic tribe. The mountain tribes of Southeast Asia and other far-flung regions have rituals that equal, or even surpass that of the Nacirema in their mysticism and peculiarity.


The Nacirema are apparently taught from birth that "the human body is ugly" (Miner 1956, p.503) and that its natural tendencies are toward disease and decay. Their rituals are therefore designed to perpetually reverse this natural process of physical decline.
Reading through the article, I began to see familiar images. Graphic ritual descriptions aside, western society seemed to be a mirror-image of this curiously bizarre tribe. Like the Nacirema, modern cultures seem to be forever altering what nature has provided in order to fit a standard ideal. I realized that the Naciremans were not necessarily a native or aboriginal tribe in the literal sense. Miner mentions that they are from North America, living in the territory between the Canadian Cree, the Yaqui and Tarahumare of Mexico, and the Carib and Arawak of the Antilles (1956, p.503). The geographical location itself seemed familiar in a strange way. Upon further inspection of clues that may be hidden in the text, I watched, amazed, as the letters of the word Nacirema moved around on the page and began to spell out a word that certainly wasn't exotic: American. I had just unveiled a long-standing myth. ...
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