AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE:
INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS

Set the mood for the Nacirema session by insisting that students in pairs take a full ten minutes to explore indigenous people documentary photography at the Native Planet site. Then, without discussion or delay begin the Nacirema activity. 
 

CLASS ACTIVITY: ENCOUNTER WITH THE NACIREMA

Inform students that the canonical Nacirema study was written in 1956 when cultural sensibilities and attitudes were a little different from today. The original case study is still commonly used to introduce advanced college Cultural Anthropology courses. Warn students to keep an open mind. Warn them that some students may find the material shocking or offensive.

Horace Miner's Body Ritual among the Nacirema appeared in the journal American Anthropologist 58: 3. For copyright reasons the American Anthropological Association ask that the article is not altered or reprinted even as a pdf. 

Inform students that today they will be working alone and in silence. A rare thing for TOK; so no excuses. Here is a timed 20 minute, graded written assignment based on the study.  

Select only one Nacirema body ritual. Describe it briefly but precisely. Propose two rival hypotheses to explain the origin and/or cultural significance of uour chosen ritual. Formulate three questions that you would ask Nacirema subjects in the field if you were a professional cultural anthtropologist. Assume there is no language barrier.

Announce that there will be follow through on Nacirema only after the papers have been graded. If time permits move straight into the Jared Diamond influenced What can we learn from traditional societies? unit.