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UCSB historian revisits Egypt's 1977 bread uprising [VIDEO]

As part of the Arab Reform and Democracy Program's speaker series, UC Santa Barbara Historian Sherene Seikaly discusses her research on Egypt's 1977 bread intifada. A return to the historical moment of the “Bread Intifada,” of 1977 interrupts the narrative resilience of the alternating sleep and wakefulness of the Egyptian, and more broadly the Arab people. By engaging 18-19 January 1977 as a moment of politics and popular sovereignty, Seikaly's project challenges who and what count as political, rational, and legitimate. The role food played in protestors’ and government strategies and demands reveals how basic needs function as a trigger of social upheaval as well as a vehicle of political containment. This project attends to the roles that poverty and hunger play in politics in order to detail critiques of the open door policy. It explores how government officials, journalists, and protestors defined and ultimately contained the “poor” and the “hungry.” More importantly, by studying how protestors narrated and represented themselves and the tools they used to make their claims, this project troubles the construction of the “people.”  In so doing, it explores continuity and rupture between 1977 and 2011.