This article examines the consolidation of a regime of government-subsidized wheat bread in Egypt during the Second World War, in tandem with the development of the Egyptian state of emergency and a military courts system. It investigates how landowner resistance and fertilizer shortages brought Egypt to the brink of famine in 1941, and how Anglo-Egyptian diplomacy negotiated a regime of mandatory government grain requisition. It draws on Egyptian news media, bureaucratic reports, and military court cases to show resistance to and the social effects of this policy, including the acceleration of income inequality in rural areas and a huge increase in wheat consumption in cities. The article argues the long-term success of this regime depended on both the improvement of surveillance and coercive technocracy mediated through the military courts and the naturalization of public attitudes toward consuming “mixed” bread and toward the black market and military courts themselves.

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