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Moralities of the Market: Merchants, Islam and Ethics in Pre-Conflict Aleppo

This project explores the moral and social dynamics of trade in the city of Aleppo, then Syria’s commercial hub, before the outbreak of the Syrian uprising in 2011. It starts from the assumption that Aleppo was not simply a second city to Damascus, nor a site of political opposition to the Baathist regime, but had been fashioned by Aleppo’s merchant families into a dynamic node in an expansive Asian economy, connected to markets in China, central Asia, the Gulf and beyond. As well as identifying these connections, this project seeks to describe the local understandings of economy, value and circulation in which trade in Aleppo was embedded. Drawing on fifteen months of fieldwork in Syria, conducted in 2008-09, this project explores the forms of value, dynamics of trust, and notions of moral personhood, that underpinned trade in Aleppo’s wholesale and retail suqs and textile factories in this period.