Cover of Bread and Freedom by Mona El-Ghobashy
Bread and Freedom
Egypt's Revolutionary Situation
Mona El-Ghobashy


July 2021
392 pages.
from $28.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503601765
Paperback ISBN: 9781503628151
Ebook ISBN: 9781503628168

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A multivocal account of why Egypt's defeated revolution remains a watershed in the country's political history.

Bread and Freedom offers a new account of Egypt's 2011 revolutionary mobilization, based on a documentary record hidden in plain sight—party manifestos, military communiqués, open letters, constitutional contentions, protest slogans, parliamentary debates, and court decisions. A rich trove of political arguments, the sources reveal a range of actors vying over the fundamental question in politics: who holds ultimate political authority. The revolution's tangled events engaged competing claims to sovereignty made by insurgent forces and entrenched interests alike, a vital contest that was terminated by the 2013 military coup and its aftermath.

Now a decade after the 2011 Arab uprisings, Mona El-Ghobashy rethinks how we study revolutions, looking past causes and consequences to train our sights on the collisions of revolutionary politics. She moves beyond the simple judgments that once celebrated Egypt's revolution as an awe-inspiring irruption of people power or now label it a tragic failure. Revisiting the revolutionary interregnum of 2011–2013, Bread and Freedom takes seriously the political conflicts that developed after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, an eventful thirty months when it was impossible to rule Egypt without the Egyptians.

About the author

Mona El-Ghobashy is Clinical Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies at New York University.

"Mona El-Ghobashy adds a new perspective to the canonical view of the Arab Spring with the immensely readable and thoughtfully constructed Bread and Freedom. Starting from Charles Tilly's insight that revolutions are more like traffic jams than eclipses of the sun, El-Ghobashy revisits how an Egyptian protest became a revolutionary situation."

—Sidney G. Tarrow, Cornell University

"If you read only one book on the 10th anniversary of the Arab Spring, make it Bread and Freedom. Mona El-Ghobashy leads the reader behind the scenes to the real battles of 2011, for a rewarding read that challenges everything you thought you knew about revolutionary uprisings. A rare treat."

—Elizabeth F. Thompson, American University

"In this gripping political history, Mona El-Ghobashy overturns conventional dramaturgical narratives of Egypt's 2011 uprising as marked by hopeful beginnings and calamitous endings. Instead, she captures the uncertainty and interstitial quality of Egypt's interregnum as a 'revolutionary situation.' Marked by analytical rigor and immense narrative detail, Bread and Freedom is a must-read for anyone concerned with deeper conceptual questions surrounding the entanglement of revolution and democracy."

—Omnia El Shakry, University of California, Davis