Staple Security: Bread and Wheat in Egypt

This event has passed.

Online via Zoom
@ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm


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. This talk explores 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. Linking global flows of grain and a national bread subsidy program with everyday household practices, she examine the daily efforts to ensure that this does not happen. She offers a novel conceptualization of the nexus between food and security, focusing attention on staple foods specifically and bringing security – as an affectively-charged state of being and a form of action – to the fore.

Jessica Barnes is an associate professor at the University of South Carolina.  Her research examines the culture and politics of resource use and environmental change. Her award-winning first book, Cultivating the Nile: The Everyday Politics of Water in Egypt (Duke University Press, 2014) is an ethnographic study of water and the politics surrounding its use. In subsequent work, she explored the intersections of climate change, water, and agriculture, focusing on how scientific understandings of climate change and its impact on the water resources of the Nile Basin are produced, interpreted, and negotiated. Related to this research interest, Dr. Barnes co-edited a collection of anthropological essays on climate change with Michael Dove, Climate Cultures: Anthropological Perspectives on Climate Change (Yale University Press, 2015).