Nacirema tribe by Emilee Rutledge


The Nacirema are a highly superstitious people. From a western perspective, some of their rituals and customs could be viewed as extreme.

The article mentions “the appearance and health of which loom as a dominant concern in the ethos of the people”. It seems that there is a kind of obsession with their bodies because they practice a ritualistic regimin that focuses on the physical body to the point that it takes up much of their free time. In reality, this is similar to American society’s emphasis on outward appearances but at an even more extreme level. The beliefs held by the Nicirema are habituated by tradition and superstition. This is a part of the Nacirema’s culture and deeply engrained in their day to day living and the psychological effects that these traditions have on the people is worth scholarly inquiry of the culture.

The uniqueness of their way of life including their rituals, hierarchy systems and traditions may help onlookers to understand more about human nature and the psychology behind it. As mentioned in the article, many of the culture’s practices are so extreme that there appears to be levels of sadomasochism in relation to their beliefs and rituals. The Nacirema hold the belief that the body is “ugly” and prone to disease and that by performing what are often torturous rituals, these issues can be alleviated or treated. Even though many of the practices such as mutilating the teeth and gums yield no results, they continue with the highly invasive and painful rituals. This is also very puzzling from a psychological stand point.

Another article I found on the Nacirema describes their culture as making two-fold judgments which is representative in the way that certain societal norms are carried out. For example, certain members of society are ostracizes, imprisoned, murdered or discriminated by the economically dominant members of society who are distinguished by their light skin. These practices are described as being reflective of the moral duality held by the Nacirema culture meaning that those who are in a position to discriminate hold a very dualistic moral perspective (either or). In order to justify certain practices or views on a moral level, the receiving members of society must be viewed as morally inferior in some way.

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