Liberia was founded by the American Colonization Society as a refuge for "free people of color" in the United States and became independent
in 1847. The descendents of the settlers were long known in the literature as
Americo-Liberians. Recently, Dunn and
Tarr ( 1988) have suggested the
term repatriate to designate this group. For more on Liberian history, see Staudenraus 1961; Shick 1980; Liebenow 1987; and Dunn and
The term "Glebo" refers to a population of roughly 10,000 people who
belong, patrilineally, to a series of some thirteen coastal communities between Fishtown Point and the Cavalla River. The Glebo speak one of the
many dialects of Grebo, a Kwa language shared by a number of southeastern
groups. Although "Grebo" is used by the Liberian government as an ethnic
category, Grebo speakers do not recognize a common identity or political
unity as such. Fieldwork in Cape Palmas for fifteen months in 1982-1983
was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and a Hannum Warner Alumnae Travel Grant from Mount Holyoke College.
"Traditional" male dress for the Glebo consists, today as in the past,
of a long-sleeved white shirt, tie, dark suit coat, and bowler hat from the
waist up and, from the waist down, a wrap-around cloth or "lappa."
See Carter and
Mends-Cole, 1982, for education statistics.
This new, polarized ethnicity has been manifest most recently in the
tragic civil war that has engulfed Liberia since January of 1990.
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of
Richard Nice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Brooks, George E. 1972. The Kru Mariner in the Nineteenth Century. Newark, Del.: Liberian Studies Monograph Series, No. 1.
Brown, David. 1982. "On the Category Civilized in Liberia and Elsewhere". Journal of Modern African Studies 20:287-303.
Carter, Jeanette, and
Joyce Mends-Cole. 1982. Liberian Women: Their Role
in Food Production and Their Educational and Legal Status. Monrovia:
USAID/ University of Liberia, Profile of Liberian Women in Development
Cott, Nancy. 1977. "The Bonds of Womanhood: Women's Sphere in New
England", 1780- 1835. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Dunn, D. Elwood, and
Bryon S. Tarr. 1988. Liberia: A National Polity in
Transition. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press.
Fraenkel, Merran. 1964. Tribe and Class in Monrovia. London: Oxford University Press.
-----. 1966. "Social Change on the Kru Coast of Liberia". Africa 36:154-172.