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Understanding Basic Cultural Analysis Through the Nacirema

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Amy Levine

on 26 February 2016

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Transcript of Understanding Basic Cultural Analysis Through the Nacirema

Understanding Basic Cultural Analysis Through the Nacirema
actions and beliefs that define a particular group
language, films, science, food, literature, fashion, art, architecture, special occasions or holidays...
what is NOT culture?
how you define group is important: international, national, regional, local, etc.
holy place
prayer, meditation, cleansing, etc. happens there
Examples: temples. churches, bathrooms
an action or ceremony
can be special or everyday/routine
often taken-for-granted because those around do them and expect you to do them
powerful (if absent, it causes stress and pain)
can be to appeal to gods or other people or both
Examples: graduation ceremonies, weddings, funerals, brushing your teeth...
Horace Miner's Nacirema article introduces basic ways to analyze culture through myth, shrines, rituals, and beliefs.

What other ways of knowing about the US do we have?
course readings
your own experiences
new research
get creative!
Myth or Mythology
traditional story that explains something about nature
passed down from generation-to-generation
usually has some hero/heroine
often about God, gods, or spirits
can be rational or superstitious
Examples: Greek and Roman myths, Tangun
Horace Mitchell Miner
anthropologist (U. of Chicago)
counterintelligence officer during WWII
Fulbright Fellow in Uganda
published 'Culture and Agriculture' (1949), 'City in Modern Africa' (1967)
published 'Body Ritual Among the Nacerima' (1956)
Why does Miner spell words backwards?

Nacirema = American
Notgnihsaw = Washington
Latipsoh= Hospital

Why does he call dentists 'holy mouth men' and doctors 'medicine men'?
Full transcript