This article reads Chantal Akerman's short film Saute ma ville (Blow Up My Town, Belgium, 1968) with and against texts by Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze, and Herman Melville. Rather than being merely a precursor to Akerman's later genre‐defining efforts in recording female domestic life, I propose that Saute ma ville displays the potentiality for domestic labor itself to be a destituent practice, rather than an expected component of reproductive, conventionally gendered work. The way that Akerman mobilizes the inoperative actions of her protagonist — a “girl without references” — in her “preference not to” perform the supportive labor of the domestic space and in so doing literally “blow up her town” makes this early work interpretable as structurally concerned and politically motivated recit in the mode of her later films, rather than merely narrative‐focused histoire. The protagonist of the film, in her Chaplinesque resistance to allow household chores to sustain her home, displays a conceptual paradigm in which those still separated from politics and from the space of the polis may yet act politically. Reading the film with Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener and Deleuze's and Agamben's responses to that text puts pressure on the limits of Agamben's thought on inoperativity and reinscribes the importance of Akerman's deeply affective cinematography within an anti‐capitalist feminist critique.

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