ABOUT THIS BOOK
An illuminating look at the concept of the generic and its role in making meaning in the world.
From off-brand products to elevator music, the “generic” is discarded as the copy, the knockoff, and the old. In The Copy Generic, anthropologist Scott MacLochlainn insists that more than the waste from the culture machine, the generic is a universal social tool, allowing us to move through the world with necessary blueprints, templates, and frames of reference. It is the baseline and background, a category that orders and values different types of specificity yet remains inherently nonspecific in itself. Across arenas as diverse as city planning, social media, ethnonationalism, and religion, the generic points to spaces in which knowledge is both overproduced and desperately lacking. Moving through ethnographic and historical settings in the Philippines, Europe, and the United States, MacLochlainn reveals how the concept of the generic is crucial to understanding how things repeat, circulate, and are classified in the world.