The American Culture in the Article by Horace Miner Essay

Who is Miner really talking about in this article?

In the article, the author is actually referring to a certain tribe in America that performs unique rituals. The major factor that stands out in the Nacirema tribe is that when the name is spelt backwards, it turns out to be American . As such, the author is simply referring to the rituals performed by an American. Whereas this may not necessarily describe the person whom the author is talking about, other indications in the article insinuate that the individual being referred in the article is an American.


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The article narrates the history of the formation of this tribe whose rituals are indeed very strange. The author indicates that the mythology of the tribe points towards its beginning. The tribe emerged from a hero called Notgnishaw. The hero was popular for cutting down a Cherry tree. The name Notgnishaw is actually Washington spelt backwards and the part of felling down the tree is popular among Americans.

In addition to the obvious spelling tricks, the author relates the rituals as daily happenings in an American citizen’s life. Miner portrays the habit as a strange and sinister culture that is closely related with hygiene and cosmetics. Surprisingly, the ominous, creepy and disturbing part of mouth rituals is actually not inappropriate.

Rather, the author is expressing a long drawn process that starts in the morning when an American cleans his teeth and continues with other important aspects such as medications which are used and returned in their shrines or cabinets. Miner speaks of a culture of repetition among Americans especially when visiting hospitals and taking drugs.

List of bizarre college rituals

University students have various strange rituals that freshmen encounter as they relate with other college students. These rituals are very common. Students wishing to participate in games often join gyms or other college groups. They are forced to perform them in order to become members. Some of the rituals include:

Eating grass before playing each game.

Stripping for prying camera shots for freshman class then the pictures front, side and back are pinned against a graph on the wall. The posture pictures are taken by those who seek to belong to a football team in a college.

Naked quad run

Civilian versus cadet snowball fights

Boob ranking

Boiling hot water on the back

Public body critiquing that involves critiquing a lady student’s exposed body

How does this article portray ethnocentrism?

When a particular culture is exalted above others, it is referred to as ethnocentrism. In the article, Horace Miner is satirical of the practices and culture of Americans that have been regarded as unique and of high standard than other cultures that seem primitive. Ethnocentrism is evident in several ways in the article as explained in the remaining section of the paper.

The ambiguous details of the American culture as related to hygiene and cosmetics denote a culture that is unique and exceptional to others. The bathroom rituals, frequent visits to therapists, doctors and dentists, and the body image which now involves shaving and breast implants demonstrate how other exotic or mysterious cultures are valued. The arrogance of western culture and lack of respect for other cultures are also brought out strongly in the article.


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