In the present, most people do not put enough emphasis on the importance of understanding their customs and cultural beliefs. However, it all depends on the perspective with which someone looks at the issue. For example, one may not appreciate or find their culture appealing until someone from outside says that. This essay uses sociological imagination to discuss the present American culture using the body rituals on the Nacirema. Given the same situation, it is surprising how people from different communities would behave differently. This is because different people have different cultures binding and guiding them. Therefore, the diversity can be surprising for an outsider. However, for individuals in the community, it is just their normal routine.

Thesis Statement

This essay uses sociological imagination to discuss the present American culture using the body rituals on the Nicarema.

Body Ritual of the Nacirema

The Nacirema people exhibit unusual practices, which make them extremely different from other cultural groups. They are one of the cultural groups which can be considered to be extreme in their behavior. More to their extreme behavior is their ethnocentrism. Despite the changing world around them, these people keep to their old traditions and customs. They behave as if the other cultures are irrelevant to them. They do not even consider their behaviors to be extreme. This may seem strange to some people, but to some, it seems intriguing. The bottom line is that for one to understand a certain cultural group, he/she has to look at its behavior from an outside eye. However, if someone does not get entertained by diversity, a tour to these people cannot be a pleasing one.

The Nacirema is a group in North-America. They live between Tarahumare and Yakui of Mexico, the Canadian Cree and the Arawak and Karib of the Antilles. To this day the origin of the Nacirema has not yet been well defined. However, the research done shows that they may have originated from the east. This is a fact that the people of this cultural group does not believe. They believe that they were originated by a cultural hero. Notgnigsaw, the cultural hero, was believed to have engaged in acts of heroism. According to them, he had two great feasts which had incredible strength. Most cultural groups had such beliefs. The uniqueness of this group in the matter is the fact that they still believe it strongly. In the modern world, such views rarely exist. However, the conservativeness of the Nacirema does not allow them to throw away such beliefs.

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Most of the Nacirema people have their lives focused on economic pursuits. Therefore, they are hardworking people. This behavior is not peculiar. This is because it is practiced by most cultural groups in the world. The peculiar thing about their pursuit is the intention of their pursuit. Most of their efforts and labor fruits go to their rituals. They mainly concentrate on body rituals (Miner, 1956). From these values, it is clear that these people have strong cultural values. This ritual does not cause cultural relativism since these beliefs apply in any other cultural contexts. However, the philosophy and aspects of the ceremonies are unique to this cultural group. They are the aspects that cause the group to be interesting to the people who try to study them. Their intensity also causes the understanding of their culture by other people to be difficult.

The start of the mystery in the beliefs of this cultural group is in their view about the human body. They have no respect for the human body. They believe that the bodies of people do not have any value. The bodies are just naturally fragile. Their main characteristic is a disease and debility. Therefore, their main actions in the day are directed towards averting this characteristic. Therefore, their lives are not spent on their own interests. They perform their rituals in the shrines. These shrines are more elegant than the houses in which these people live. Other cultural groups have religious beliefs, as well. However, it does not have as much priority as in this group. An outside person may find the stay with these people as entertaining as they are.

In other communities, rituals and religious ceremonies are held in fellowship. Therefore, nobody hides or has anything to hide during the ceremonies. In the Nacirema, the rituals are confidential to every individual. People in the community do not talk about their experiences. The only people who receive the talk are children who are to be initiated into the ritual. This is a belief and practice that goes beyond the social imagination of any outsider. The poor people in the community also try to make their shrines look better than their houses (Schaefer, 2011). The extent to which people can neglect their duties, rights and interests in order to dedicate their lives and efforts to body rituals is astounding. However, the rituals of the Nacirema are a just a representation of others in America. Considering different aspects of life, there are different beliefs and practices from different people. Some of these groups go to extremes. The Nacirema is an ideal example.


From the essay above, it is clear that there is significant diversity when it comes to culture. However, there are extremes in the same. There are cultural groups and communities who can go to extremes that may seem peculiar to the other people who may not share in the same sentiments and beliefs. Therefore, the study cultures and religions can be fascinating. However, it only depends on the perspective that people look at them. These beliefs and cultural practices show that a country or community still has the traditional aspect despite the changing times.

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