Ecological Approach

The ecological approach seems to connect many things that affect humans such as culture, natural resources and political economy and uses them to answers many health questions that anthropologists are looking to solve. I think it would be the most useful because it takes things that are as used in our everyday lives and are in our control, like culture, and relates it to things that may not be in our control such as the amount of natural resources that are available.

The distinction between disease and illness is just one is the actual documented sickness and the other is the mental perception of the other. It wasn’t as obvious to me just because i think that in my interactions with people talking about being sick there was never a staunch line and in fact most times illness and disease were used interchangeably.



The mouth-rite ritual – it is important because the Nacirema believe that not doing this can lead to loss of teeth, bleeding gums, and the desertion of friends or lovers. It is known to have a supernatural connection to the social relations you have with others.


Special Women ritual – during this ritual the women bake their heads, this is used to beautify the head and potentially attract male suitors.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Natasha Mehta says:

    When describing the mouth-rite ritual in the article, the author talks mainly about people brushing their teeth and going to the dentist. However, they are many more ways people treat their teeth and mouth in this day and age compared to when the article was written. For example, our society has an obsession with not only having healthy teeth, but also making our teeth and mouths look as “healthy” as possible. People use teeth whitening strips and UV light to make their teeth appear more clear and white. With countless TV, magazine, and street ads advertising how great these products are and how white your teeth can and should be, people have become obsessed with more than just having a healthy mouth. Our society has come to believe that having extremely white teeth isn’t just desired, but it is necessary to live a completely healthy and fulfilling life. The author could also add a lot about the women ritual, given that there are also countless different ways women manipulate their hair these days. Hair, along with our mouths and teeth, is taken care of to great extremes in many cases, that they aren’t extremes anymore, but becoming a normal ritual.

  2. Melinda Zielinski says:

    I thought the mouth-rite ritual was important as well as it still is today. I also agree with the post above mine that it is not just about brushing our teeth and that we have taken this ritual to all other levels today. One of those levels is, braces. We as Americans have become obsessed with making our teeth perfectly straight and white. Myself included has taken part in this ritual. Growing up I had a huge gap tooth that never came back together. The teasing I endured and American Society’s obsession on having perfect teeth convinced me to take part in this modern day mouth-rite ritual. I wouldn’t consider it a ritual anymore but rather a normalcy in our society now because so many people have had or have braces. I also agree with the post above mine as well in making our teeth look as healthy as possible by using whitening strips. I am guilty of using them as well. This is also now seen as a normalcy in our society. As for the special-women rituals we have also taken this to new heights. Women don’t just get their hair cut or styled from straight to curly anymore. This ritual could be updated because women and men now go through complete transformations with their hair. A lot of people go through complete hair transformations to get a “fresh start” or a “new me”. I suppose that could be an underlying ideology with the modern day obsession of restyling our hair. We also have taken it to new heights by adding extensions. We used to never do that and now dying our hair, adding extensions, styling, or cutting our hair is seen as a normalcy and something women and men do every month. A final way the special women ritual could be updated is by adding the word men into it. It is not just women that partake in these rituals but men as well.

  3. Riasia Franklin says:

    Seeing the author describes the different rituals in the article was very interesting. Especially seeing the descriptions of how the mouth-rite ritual was described in detail. The descriptions of this ritual seems really similar to american culture in the same way that we go to the dentist to get teeth cleaned a couple times a year and how oral hygiene is really important. A way in which the mouth rite ritual could be upgraded would be to use special kind of toothpaste and mouthwash for oral care or maybe to use whitening strips that are available in convenient stores today. I found that really interesting how the world develops within 50 years from the time of that article up until now with new inventions. The ritual regarding special women could also be upgraded in some ways for women to beautify themselves such as going to spa and getting facial scrubs or even getting a fresh hairstyle done at the salon. There are many ways today that women beautify themselves or their faces. There are also ways in which women can give themselves a facial right in their own home without having to go to the actual spa. I found those rituals really interesting with how those could be upgraded to equal the current health values and ideologies.

  4. Alisyn Korpela says:

    The mouth-rite ritual is still very prominent in today’s American society. Brushing one’s teeth with a toothbrush and paste is a common practice of everyday life. Visiting the dentist 1-2 times a year to check-up or fix various tooth and/or gum problems is still a relevant custom. The act of removing decay and bad evils from the mouth is the same act as removing cavities in the grooves of your teeth, which I have personally experienced too many times than I do prefer. In addition to this, many more practices involving the mouth have become accustomed to the American people. For example, like stated before, teeth whitening is very popular. It is culturally accepted to have the whitest teeth one can achieve through various means. Not only does it make one look more attractive, but whiter teeth also suggests that the individual has good hygiene and takes the time to present themselves in a positive light. The article suggests that there is a supernatural connection between this mouth-rite ritual and social relations with others. I think this too is still true today, as people with nice, well cared for teeth are more appealing and inviting to others than the alternative. In today’s society, it is seen more so to practice different forms of mouth hygiene in the home, rather than in a “medicine man’s latipso.”

  5. Alison Johnson says:

    The mouth-rite ritual is still somewhat in effect in our culture today. Most people go visit a dentist at least once a year if not more. It’s usually recommended that people get a yearly cleaning of their teeth. However, people also brush and floss their teeth one to three times a day. This helps to keep your teeth extra healthy. There are many other cosmetic aspects to dentistry in our culture today though. Whether it is from braces to teeth whitening, most people strive for straight white teeth. It’s my understanding that good oral health, and how your teeth look correlates to social status in our society as well now. The Nacirema believed that the mouth-rite ritual would directly correlate to social relations to others. In our modern day society I strongly feel that they were correct. The special-women ritual is greatly enhanced in our modern society. Not only do women “bake” their hair, they also color, brush, cut it ect. These advances do more than just attract male suitors though. A woman’s outer appearance, specifically her hair, can get the attention of males and females, and usually depicts where she is located socially in society. The special-women ritual contains many more aspects than it previously did when it was written.

  6. heilmann says:

    I thought it was interesting how the “special women” ritual you mentioned was discussed when the article was written so long ago. This ideology still holds very true in modern cultures including our own culture here in America. Women go through all types of trouble just to improve appearances and attract males. A way ritual could be updated is if it discussed more of the things women do to improve appearances. One thing that women often go through, especially wealthier women, are various plastic surgeries. Some will adjust the size of their breasts (as mentioned in the article) and others will make their stomachs thinner or change their facial features. They are all serious surgeries just to create the optimal body features. There are also new techniques in the art makeup such as airbrushing and contouring that can dramatically change the appearance of your face. In addition to these methods some also take part in injections of chemicals or fat from other parts of your body in order to minimize wrinkles in the face caused naturally by aging. If these techniques still aren’t enough women also dye their hair, add fake hair/hair from other humans to their own, tattoo on makeup and more. There are a lot of new “rituals” women take part in now that the author could elaborate on, all of which just increase the focus we have on appearances.

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