Essay Sample on The Nacirema: A Synonym for Modern American Culture and Behaviour

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1218 Words
Date:  2023-01-28


The Nacirema is a synonym for the American culture and behaviour that has developed over time as used in anthropological terms. The term significantly is representative of the extremes of human behaviour as is applied in the society, among them rituals and beliefs that form the basis of the modern American community. The Nacirema supposedly thrive in a culture of the market economy, which over time has become highly developed as to be spread to the other communities and nations. A portion of the gains from the labor market is then used in ritual activities mostly revolving around appearances and the beautification of the human body. In the study, we explored the history of the evolving culture and the body rituals that have come to be normalized in the American community of today.

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There is no doubt that the Nacirema culture has come a very long way, with literature dating back almost three hundred years documented. The dynamism of the Nacirema culture is evident in social, political and economic circles as seen in the various literature sources that explore this magnificent culture since way back, through different dynasties and rulers that have come and gone. These dynamic changes and evolution have both their advantages and disadvantages. The increased freedom of expression as guaranteed by the constitution gives the people the ability to experiment more on their own bodies and as such the rituals have come to be associated with today's society (Miner, 1956)..

To understand the dynamism in the Nacirema political and cultural arenas, it is crucial to understand the historical events that have shaped the country to what it is. Like the Western culture which is more known in the Americas and England, the Nacirema culture is widely and better known in the United States itself. Also like the western countries struggling with their problems, The United States in the modern-day to experiences challenges in the modern-day that are as a result of events that took place in the ancient times, especially with its large population. Some of the most common rituals observed include body piercing and painting. These are some of the most common rituals that are portrayed in the text to belong to the Nacireman culture.

In the years following independence, The United States went through major periods starting from the 18th century. Each of those was marked by distinct characteristics and shifts in the political and cultural climates. Within this period, political centralization was rife in the societies of the time, with autocracy being the main method of rule. During these periods, for instance, culture was mostly preserved and generally scrutinized rituals mostly shunned. While such a system gave the members of the community their rights to decide upon their culture, it allowed the societies to expand and progress much faster than it would in the present day and also set moral criteria as observed today. Over time, intermarrying led to the cropping out as independent deities in the subsequent periods. The advantage of this system is that it brought about integration and cultural interaction between the communities (Miner, 1956).

Compared to the modern times, though there was a lot of disunity and intolerance among the states past independence, this period marked the beginning of independence and the various communities got the chance to conduct themselves as they so wished. The different states also got to develop their own cultures in the manner they wished as opposed to being imposed upon. The feuds between the warring communities also boosted innovations in regards to warfare and improvements in weapons, military, and administrative reforms and fighting skills improved, and even strong armies are emerging. Perhaps ironically though, this period marked an increase in cultural interaction, language improvement and mixing of political ideas among the states (Fairbank and Goldman, 2006, 49-54).

With the accumulation of military strength over the years, it was finally possible to reunite the warring states, bringing to an end the era. This was made possible by the improvements in the military, which allowed for more maneuverability and efficiency in battle. The use of iron tools and horses, for example, was such an improvement. During this period, state control increased as well as trade. Improvements were also made to agriculture and irrigation started, thus improving food production. Administrative reforms were also done including law and introduction of counties under the leadership of a governor. This formalized administration, further strengthening state power. In matters language, standardization was brought regarding style, measurements, and writing methods. However, the conqueror contributed to the loss of historical materials by destroying archives of the other conquered states. Another undoing was the heavy taxes imposed on the people, which stagnated economic growth as well as overburdening the people (Miner, 1956).

The modern-day Nacirema inherited and extended the 1950s descendants but modified them to accommodate more human and moral aspects. Given the changing tastes in modern society, body piercing has since been normalized in the Nacirema culture of today and is seen by many as a fashion statement. These rituals have become more popular not only among the youth but also among aging members of the society, who don't seem to mind even giving children tattoos and other piercings in an effort to express their beauty. However, the period witnessed a tremendous increase in the extent to which the people are willing to engage in body rituals. For instance, plastic surgery and body enhancements have taken over today in stark contrast to the 1950s Naciremas. Gender-based surgeries also saw a tremendous increase during this time. The rituals also saw growth among classes of the society, with the upper class being the dominant one composed of literate men and merchants engaging in international trade. Perhaps the best improvements during this period, however, were in education and diplomacy. On the downside, however, the popularity of these rituals is seen as detrimental as it has contributed quite heavily in the negative perception of the modern American society by the outside world, whom they consider to have corrupted and demented morals. The 21st century came with the decline of the traditional regional restraints, precipitated by the adoption of new cultures and religion as a result of the opening up of international and regional trade.


Comparing the Nacirema society of the 1950s as portrayed by Miner there is no doubt that the culture has seen tremendous changes over the years. With the culture spreading due to interactions within the society, the body rituals have seen increased popularity in the modern-day. This is seen in all levels of the society today as opposed to the restricted nature and status it was in the 1950s. What seems odd is the manner in which the body piercing, and look enhancement rituals have taken root in the society of today and the society's acceptance, which would be considered unacceptable in other societies of the outside world. The freedoms of culture and expression thus depict the modern-day Naciremas as being lacking in morals and with a low degree of self-acceptance and value. The extreme cultures such as body enhancement through plastic surgeries have boosted this vision of the Naciremas of today among the outside world, even as these cultures find ways to establish themselves in the societies outside the United States continent.

Works Cited

Miner, Horace. "Body ritual among the Nacirema." American anthropologist 58.3 (1956): 503-507.

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Essay Sample on The Nacirema: A Synonym for Modern American Culture and Behaviour. (2023, Jan 28). Retrieved from

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