Syrian Immigrants in the Malta Bazaar of Istanbul: Changing Rules of the Trade Game and Negotiation between the Capitals

GÜNEY H. S., Dora S., Aymaz G.

Journal of Borderlands Studies, 2024 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/08865655.2024.2356792
  • Journal Name: Journal of Borderlands Studies
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus
  • Keywords: ethnography, field theory, Immigrant entrepreneurs, spatial transformation, Syrian shopkeepers, traditional bazaar
  • Galatasaray University Affiliated: Yes


This article examines the socio-spatial transformations of the Malta Bazaar in Istanbul and the new Syrian shopkeepers as potential game changers. We argue that the transformation of the bazaar cannot be seen solely as a commercial venture, but can also be read as a dynamic playground of understanding and tolerance, as well as emerging social, cultural and economic contrasts and tensions. To test these arguments, we designed a field study with an ethnographic approach. The central theme of our research is to read the role of Syrians in the social reproduction of space through potential changes in the rules of the game in a micro-space. We adopted Pierre Bourdieu's concepts of field and habitus to relate the micro-level experiences of actors in space to broader macro contexts. As a result, we concluded that the change in the rules of the game should be defined as a process of mutual uneasiness. What happens in the field at this stage is an attempt to fit into a single space where negotiation rather than cooperation is more prominent and mutual compromises are inevitably made.