Sunday, February 15, 2009


It seems very unusual that the Nacirema people continually go back to the holy-mouth-man to prevent or remove tooth decay even though it really never improves or goes away. It’s also shocking that even if no decay or holes are present, the holy-mouth-man will remove teeth to make a hole to put “magical” substances. A familiar concept is their concern for their appearance and how they seek specialists to help them with their problems. Various cultures, including ours, do different things to improve our appearance and health. To solve an issue or problem, we seek the people we think to be respected and know the most.

Within cultural context the behavior of the Nacirema makes sense because they’ve practiced their traditions for so long and it is all they know. They continue to do what they’ve done because it is what works for them. It’s hard to compare and contrast the Nacirema with Americans because they’re both quite similar. Like I mentioned earlier, we both care a lot about our appearance and health. Their concepts are clearly similar to that of Americans but the way the author describes their techniques seems awkward and somewhat painful.

This article shows how it is important to choose the right words when describing a culture. I realize now how careful anthropologists need to be when writing because this article and the authors word choice depicted the American culture in a totally different way, which is probably how the “outsider” may view it. Romanticism and exoticism are not ideal in this kind of writing because the culture needs to be portrayed exactly how it is. Cultures can be misinterpreted by this mistake.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent observations- it is the way the anthropologist describes the culture that can do a lot to make it exotic or familiar.

    As for our dentistry... how often can we really see or feel a cavity before we decide to fix it? It depends on our trust of the holy-mouth-man... :)