Making Bread: The Cultural Politics of Food Security and Wheat Self-Sufficiency in Egypt


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project examines the longstanding and widespread identification of food security in Egypt with wheat and bread self-sufficiency. Drawing on ethnographic and archival work, the project follows wheat from its site of production or import, through its transformation into different breads, to its consumption in rural and urban households. Guiding questions include how shifting social relationships and practices along this commodity chain are underpinned by notions of security, taste, and identity; how understandings of Egypt’s bread supply have changed over the postwar period; and how Egypt’s self-sufficiency ambitions are tied to contemporary and historical efforts to develop new varieties of wheat and acquire land in Sudan for wheat cultivation. Through this analysis, the project offers insights into how bread and wheat continue to shape relations of power in Egyptian society, and, more broadly, into how food security is envisioned and experienced across scales.