Horace Miner Is Relevant To Your Interests

Laura’s Team Pick

So there’s this guy, Horace Miner, who was a famous anthropologist who studied earth-centric cultures. He was also pretty funny for somebody who was in his prime during the 1950s. While those of you who happened to have taken any sort of social science-y classes might’ve heard of him, I somehow managed to make it through 4 years without hearing so much as a whisper. Luckily a commenter on (the typically-interesting/occasionally-absurd) Sociological Images clued me into his satirical “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema,” which points out just how misinformed academics can be, and how judge-y all of us can be about things that are ‘different.’ This is relevant to your interests if you enjoy discussions of “othering,” if you feel like mainstream publications don’t understand you, or if you liked Motel of the Mysteries as much as I did in fourth grade.

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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 308 articles for us.


  1. Aaah, Motel of Mysteries! I loved that book, too, and I still think of it every time I go to a museum or archeological site filled with detailed descriptions of what ancient buildings or artifacts were used for–but I’d completely forgotten what it was called! Thank you!

  2. OH HEY we just read that in my Gender in Early Modern Europe class. Gender Studies + this book + Autostraddle = perfection.

    • Yeah I definitely read of the Nacirema in my Intro to Soc class. In junior high I remember reading of the Asu tribe with their mysterious Racs which they would give the youth when they came of age, build special paths for, and let spew their waste where ever they pleased.

  3. Totally just read that last week in Cultural Anthropology. I recognized the line in the description about women going from village to village, and got really nerdy-excited. It was really funny listening to the few people in class who didn’t quite get it, and were trying to analyze why the Nacirema were so crazy. I’m pretty sure the mention of truth and cherry trees in the beginning of the article was the most obvious thing ever, but maybe I’m just nerdier than I thought.

  4. This is a staple in every introductory psyhology, sociology, and anthropology class I’ve ever taken and it makes me SO HAPPY :D

  5. Oooooh, I get it now!
    I remember reading “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” when I was in middle-school and not getting it at all. What’s weird is I know there must have been some introduction to it, but I must have not read it. I’m glad it finally makes sense.

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