Last Updated 28 May 2020

Bathroom and Rituals

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Nacirema HR 582 Managing Global Diversity Patsy A. Shepherd March 22, 2012 In Body Ritual Among the Nacirema, Horace Miner writes about the strange rituals that people do in America. While reading the story I was almost fooled, but as read further I realized the spoof of Nacirema; Nacirema is American spelled backwards and the references in the myth are the backward strange American everyday rituals. Miner’s word usage made it obvious it was just a myth, words like magical, fascination, bewitched, and mythology gave it away.

Miner portrays Americans as a tribe that go through their daily life by performing painful and needed rituals to their bodies. It is not obvious at the beginning of the case study that the tribe Miner is talking about is American people. The rituals they perform mainly focus on the human body, and if Americans skip these rituals we will have a nasty society of individuals. (Miner disguises the bathroom as a cleaning shrine, the medicine chest as the major device in the shrine and the hair on a stick as a toothbrush.

He describes the shrine as a private and secret place where cleansing and makeup rituals take place. The box and the chest have charms and potions from the medicine men). Harvey, C & Allard, J (2005) Understanding and Managing Diversity: readings, cases and exercises Pearson Prentice Hall 4th edition p. 19 Rituals are ceremonies and most rituals have a purpose. In my observation of Nacirema I want to know why the tribe conducts these types’ rituals. How are the rituals performed? Where are the rituals performed?

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Tribal rituals play a large part of everyday life in the Nacirema and American culture. Rituals are what we do on a regular basis, repeated over time; that which bring people together; shared beliefs; and loyalty. Many of the events that occur in day to day life in Nacirema are just past down customs, rituals, and beliefs. Many of our customs are a belief system past down from generation to generation. So their customs, rituals, and beliefs, are their basis of structure for their entire village, and society. We can’t live without customs, rituals, and beliefs.

Without customs, beliefs, and rituals, the people of Nacirema have no explanation for living, or being on Earth. Without customs, there is no reason for doing anything we do. Customs stem from our beliefs, so we have to believe in something. While spending time in Nacirema I realized we have some of the same customs and beliefs. Nacirema’s shrine with a box or chest in the wall is just a bathroom with a medicine cabinet. Small bundles of hog hairs and certain magical powers are simply toothbrushes and toothpaste. Holy Mouth Men are Dentist.

Highly formalized series of gestures is the art of brushing teeth. The box and the chest have charms and potions from the medicine men are doctors writing the prescriptions we keep in our medicine cabinets. During my fieldwork in Nacirema from December 2011 to February 2012, I concentrated on investigating the main principles governing Nacirema’s culture. I did my research before arriving in the village, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. I was quite anxious so I interviewed the tribe individually, I asked each individual to tell me what happens in Nacirema on a typical day?

How do you feel about me being here? What can you tell me about how Nacirema developed? What do you think should be different, if anything? Also give me just a little background on Nacirema as far as government policies, tourism, business opportunities, and brief me on customs. After my interview session, I learned that these crude rituals are just a sequence of daily activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed on a daily basis. These daily activities are no different from the daily activities that individuals in America perform on a daily basis.

Most individuals spend a lot of time in the bathroom bathing, brushing their teeth, applying makeup, and combing their hair. Would this be considered a ritual? Of course not to me or you it’s just our daily routine. This routine was passed down from my parents to me and to my children the art of hygiene. My three months of fieldwork in Nacirema was no different from my day to day in America, I actually over stayed my welcome, but I didn't want to rush my process. I wanted my evaluations to be honest and I also didn’t want my personal opinions or issues to cloud my judgment.

In conclusion I found that Nacirema myths are truths in America. (Notgnishaw, the Pa-To-Mac, and the cherry tree with the Spirit of Truth mean America lies between Canada and Mexico. The Ancient Code/Secret Language true meaning refers to the joke that a doctor’s handwriting is illegible, particularly on prescriptions. An Herbalist is just a Pharmacist. Ritual ablution of the mouth for children true meaning describes cleaning their mouths out with soap if they say something wrong. Men scraping and lacerating the surface of the face with a sharp instrument is shaving.

Women bake their heads in small ovens for about an hour is an old-fashioned hair dryer at a beauty salon. Latipsoh true meaning is a hospital. Thaumaturge and group of vestal maidens are Doctor and nurses. A magic wand in the supplicant’s mouth is a Thermometer. A listener is the local Psychologist. The sociological standpoint is that culture is based on rituals and that each culture defines its reality and acceptable behavior and chooses its authorities by rituals). Miner, Horace “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema”. Retrieved from http://www. westminster. edu/staff/brennie/wpgroup4/brotn. html on March 20, 2012

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