Monday, November 8, 2004

the Importance of Perspective

We had our second exam tonight, and I think it went pretty well... considering that when the weekend began, I had 14 academic papers to read (so much for changing my "cramming" ways).

One of the 12 essay questions dealt with a paper we read in the section on rituals, a paper which every Anthropology student reads, sooner or later:

Body Ritual among the Nacirema, by Horace Miner, originally published in 1956.

Here's the abstract:

Most cultures exhibit a particular configuration or style. A single value or pattern of perceiving the world often leaves its stamp on several institutions in the society. Examples are "machismo" in Spanish-influenced cultures, "face" in Japanese culture, and "pollution by females" in some highland New Guinea cultures. Here Horace Miner demonstrates that "attitudes about the body" have a pervasive influence on many institutions in Nacirema society.

It's not very long (about 1100 words), but is an excellent study of the peculiar rituals that can be found in a society. I strongly recommend that you read it! Please feel free to add comments to this posting afterwards.