Annika Rabo
Annika Rabo

Annika Rabo, Professor of social anthropology, says in an article in Financial Times (June 17 2013) that the traders’ self-belief may eventually help Aleppo’s versatile, resilient businessmen rebuild. “Some networks will be lost for ever, some will re-emerge,” she says, “but this image that they are the heart and soul of the economy might help them.”

Annika Rabo has studied traders in Aleppo and has written the book A Shop of One's Own Independence and Reputation among Traders in Aleppo (4130 Kb) , which was published in 2005. The book is based on anthropological fieldwork in the city between June 1997 and March 2002. The book is now available for free download (as pfd).

Aleppo is Syria’s second largest city and has been the country’s economic centre. The city was an important hub for the long-distance silk trade and Aleppo’s active traders have in recent decades played a significant role in the country’s economy. The city also has one of the largest covered markets (souq) in the Middle East where the aisles are lined with small shops and market stalls.

In A shop of One´s Own Annika Rabo describes the shop as both a symbol of and a means to gaining and maintaining independence, of being free and not taking orders from others. But in order to become and to stay independent, traders are, at the same time, heavily dependent on others for credit and for partnerships; their ‘good name’ – their reputation – is their most important asset.

In the book the traders’ values and attitudes are discussed in relation to the local market context in Aleppo, the national context and the Syrian state, and the context of the traders’ many international links. Questions as to how they define themselves and how they view the state are also explored as well as the traders’ endeavours and ambitions.

Find out more about Annika Rabo’s research.