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EPL and MENA Present: States of Subsistence with author José Ciro Martínez

May 8 @ 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM


Please join Evanston Public Library and Northwestern’s Middle Eastern and North Africa department for this conversation about how Jordan uses bread to enhance its governing power.

On any given day in Jordan, more than nine million residents eat approximately ten million loaves of khubz ‘arabi—the slightly leavened flatbread known to many as pita. Some rely on this bread to avoid starvation; for others it is a customary pleasure. Yet despite its ubiquity in accounts of Middle East politics and society, rarely do we consider how bread is prepared, consumed, discussed, and circulated—and what this all represents. With this book, José Ciro Martínez examines khubz ‘arabi to unpack the effects of the welfare program that ensures its widespread availability. Drawing on more than a year working as a baker in Amman, Martínez probes the practices that underpin subsidized bread. Following bakers and bureaucrats, he offers an immersive examination of social welfare provision. Martínez argues that the state is best understood as the product of routine practices and actions, through which it becomes a stable truth in the lives of citizens. States of Subsistence not only describes logics of rule in contemporary Jordan—and the place of bread within them—but also unpacks how the state endures through forms, sensations, and practices amid the seemingly unglamorous and unspectacular day-to-day.

About The Speaker:

José Ciro Martínez is Lecturer in Politics at the University of York. He was previously Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. José’s research explores the politics of food, welfare, drugs and political authority in the Middle East and North Africa, drawing on archival and ethnographic methods. He is committed to modes of political inquiry attentive to the seemingly ordinary and mundane.


Evanston Public Library

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