The first reading for week 3 of EDCI 614 is
Miner, H. (2012). Magical practices among the Nacirema. In D. J. Hodges, The anthropology of education : classic readings.
After the break are some questions provided to guide our thinking as we read the article...
I encounter Nacirema everyday at work. In fact, given that I live in very close proximity to Nacireman territory, I often visit there in order to exchange money for goods.
The word 'magic', seemingly not in the original title of the article, serves to create a sense of exotic mystery around these strange people; to 'other' them.
The language suggests that the Nacirema are somehow trapped in their plight and that they may be blinded to the irrationality of their culture.
The researcher is clearly presented as an outsider, giving them the advantage of 'objectivity'. Since they are not compelled to follow the magical rituals, they can be simply a dispassionate observer. Clearly, however, the researcher has imposed their own bias on their analysis.
In the figurative sense of the article, and given his bias, I think his analysis is reasonable in that it is internally coherent. It fits with the basic premise that Nacireman culture is infused with magic. In a literal sense as a commentary on American's reliance on medications for all sorts of maladies, both real and imagined, I think also that the analysis is reasonable.
that being said, a reasonable, internally coherent analysis can be completely incorrect, as I think this one is.
The article, for me, presents a powerful example of how personal 'lenses' or biases always affect analysis. Even the most ardent attempts at objectivity are doomed to failure. So we might as well just admit them up front and engage in strategies to keep them in check.