Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Birth Among the Nacirema

Miner (1956), an anthropologist, published a case study about the Nacirema that takes an outsider's look at the beliefs and practices of this culture. Riordan (1991) further examined the case study:

"Nacirema women deliver their babies in temples - slatipsoh - and the babies are taken to a separate room shortly after birth to be cared for by members of the Gnisrun tribe. She describes the rituals of a tube being pushed through the nose to remove gastric contents. Then babies are given sugar water to fill their stomachs. The breasts of the Nacirema women are consider sexually arousing, so they are kept hidden and bound under cloth until the baby cries to eat."

This is a re-blog of the post "Cultural Case Study" by the nurse at At Your Cervix blog. It is an excerpt from a book by author Jan Riordan, in which she takes the ideas behind the original essay on the Nacirema society and applies it to birth and breastfeeding practices.

I read the original text of "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema" in college, as many people have. What strikes you about this excerpt?

I encourage you to read the full text, if you haven't already. It is frequently assigned in sociology, anthropology and english courses as a way to take a look at cultural relativity, ethnocentrism, and defamiliarization.

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