Posthuman memory and the re(f)use economy



Ezra E (2014) Posthuman memory and the re(f)use economy. French Cultural Studies, 25 (3-4), pp. 378-386.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2009 filmMicmacs à tire-larigot, a scathing critique of the global arms industry, depicts a ragtag bunch of misfits who live beneath a refuse dump and give a new lease of life to discarded objects, endowing them with what might be called ‘reuse value’. Unlike exchange value, which obscures the past labour that produced the commodity, reuse value enfolds history into an object, reflecting the past use to which it was put, and making of it an exteriorized, prostheticised form of human memory. Reused objects signify two eras at once: that in which they were manufactured (thus the African ethnographer’s antique typewriter evokes the colonial past), and the era in which they are being reused (the not-so-postcolonial present). Coextensive with this animation of disused objects through their endowment with memory is the reification of human beings, who become reduced to an assemblage of inanimate objects as they are alternately blown up in dirty wars or collected by a wealthy arms manufacturer in the form of celebrity body parts. The double-edged nature of the re(f)use economy, which both privileges resistance and underlines the posthuman dissolution of the boundaries between people and objects, points up the pharmacological dimension (at once destructive and potentially positive) of globalisation.

commodity culture; globalisation; grammatisation; memory; Micmacs; posthuman; prosthesis; reuse

French Cultural Studies: Volume 25, Issue 3-4

Publication date30/11/2014
Publication date online08/2014

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Professor Elizabeth Ezra

Professor Elizabeth Ezra

Professor of Cinema and Culture, French