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Nacirema research paper due and don’t know how to start it? How about like this?

If I were to spend the next year living among the Nacirema I would be terrified of the ritualistic practices of the people. Their beliefs lead them to be highly sadistic towards one another and masochistic in their involvement in body rituals. Their fundamental belief system is based on the fact that the body is “ugly and that its natural tendency is to debility and disease”. It goes without saying that psychologists today would deem this behavior very detrimental to an individuals self esteem. I believe that by the time one year was up, I would be destroyed both mentally and physically.


The pain and degradation to the psyche and body aside, the Nacirema tribe’s rituals are much like the Western World’s religious ceremonies. The Nacirema have a hierarchy of leadership that determines the significance of events and spreads the word on to the people below him of what their duties are. Morals and guidelines are set up for individuals to follow and punishments are distributed, either through superstition or physically for those that do not follow the rules. Just as a god is a supernatural influence in many Western religions, the mouth is a supernatural influence in the lives of the Nacirema. It is actually more understandable how a tangle object like the mouth, which is the force behind all communication and necessary for breathing, could be looked at as supernatural and to be worshiped. Thus, we in the Western World should not be so ethnocentric as to completely disregard Nacirema traditions and rituals as superstitious lore.

Another frightening aspect of Nacirema culture is how they handle health issues. I would be terrified to get sick in this culture. Even the children understand that when someone is sick and they go to the temple to recovery, they are actually more likely to die. The rituals to exercise sickness or “purify” themselves are often more harmful than the sickness itself.

It is interesting what a paradox the Nacirema culture is. While the body is the central force of their superstitions and the most powerful driving force, even economically; the body is the most abused and misused living thing in their culture. I would think that it would be common sense to treat the body with reverence, even if it was deemed ugly and a burden to be saddled with. They obviously understood that sickness comes from the body, hence the flip side of health would come from the body too. However, they haven’t allowed themselves to see this point yet. In their defense, Western religions are far from logical also, they just do not contain the brutality of ritual that the Nacirema do.

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