Replace Me is an extensive essay on replacement - from the workplace, to personal relationships, to the tech we use, Amber Husain explores how fears of replaceability have been exploited to further the industries of Western capitalism.
An impressive feat in 137 pages, Husain manages to reference movements and ideas from futurism, altruism, Aristotle, Plato, Greek mythology, films, plays and various books to make this a really well-researched and thoughtful piece of literature.
Husain opens her essay by discussing her first experience of permanent employment in publishing and this I found a really interesting read. Here, she focuses on the replaceability of the assistant who is made aware of their contingent status in the office through reminders of how lucky they are to be in that position and the line of publishing hopefuls eager to replace them. Husain notes that it is this mentality in industries like publishing that leads to unspoken rules and taboos surrounding discussions of pay, in addition to pay disparity and uneven spread of labour across the workforce. Fuelling this situation, she wagers, are HR employees who, while hardly immune themselves, are often the main enforcers of work replaceability politics.
The further into the book I got the harder I found it to stay engaged - particularly when it came to the Greek mythology comparisons that I had no point of reference for. In spite of this, the bits I did understand raised excellent points and made me think a lot about the power imbalances we create through who and what we see as replaceable. I would recommend this one to any literary theory-minded readers and to my fellow publishing assistants <3