What Are Examples of Nacirema Culture?

“Nacirema” is a satirical look at the United States of America, so any aspect of the culture of that country could be said to be nacireman. In keeping with the spirit of the academic paper that introduced the term, such observations would be recorded as if they were made by an American social scientist or anthropologist observing a formerly unknown tribe.

“Body Ritual among the Nacirema” was the satirical paper that introduced the term. It was written by Horace Mitchell Miner and published in American Anthropologist in June of 1956. The paper observes the practice of brushing teeth daily (which it calls the “mouth ritual”), and refers to doctors and psychiatrists as medicine men and women and medicine chests as “charm boxes.” The paper also references a cultural hero called Notgnihsaw, a satire of George Washington.

Three follow-ups to this paper were written by other authors. In 1970, Willard Walker commented on the deterioration of spoken English with “The Retention of Folk Linguistic Concepts and the TI’YCIR Caste in Contemporary Nacireman Culture.” Neil B. Thompson wrote “The Mysterious Fall of the Nacirema” in 1972, commenting mostly on the worship of the flibomotua (automobile) and how it led to the degradation of the Nacirema environment. And Gerry Philipsen commented on Nacirema speech codes by contrasting them with those of a new culture in the region, the residents of Teamsterville.