Jessica BarnesFeb 10, 2023
Bread and Wheat in Egypt
Duke University Press 2022
Egyptians often say that bread is life; most eat this staple multiple times a day, many relying on the cheap bread subsidized by the government. In Staple Security: Bread and Wheat in Egypt (Duke UP, 2022), Jessica Barnes explores the process of sourcing domestic and foreign wheat for the production of bread and its consumption across urban and rural settings. She traces the anxiety that pervades Egyptian society surrounding the possibility that the nation could run out of wheat or that people might not have enough good bread to eat, and the daily efforts to ensure that this does not happen. With rich ethnographic detail, she takes us into the worlds of cultivating wheat, trading grain, and baking, buying, and eating bread. Linking global flows of grain and a national bread subsidy program with everyday household practices, Barnes theorizes the nexus between food and security, drawing attention to staples and the lengths to which people go to secure their consistent availability and quality.
Jessica Barnes is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and the School of Earth, Ocean, and Environment at the University of South Carolina. She is author of Cultivating the Nile: The Everyday Politics of Water in Egypt, also published by Duke University Press, and coeditor of Climate Cultures: Anthropological Perspectives on Climate Change.
Amir Sayadabdi is a lecturer in Anthropology at Victoria University of Wellington. He is mainly interested in anthropology of food and its intersection with gender studies, migration studies, and studies of race, ethnicity, and nationalism.