How Colonial Agribusinesses Affected Liberia

Project Synopsis

This is an essay with a supplementary podcast discussing the relationship between the transnational corporation, the ‘Firestone Natural Rubber Company’, and Liberia. 

The essay uses historical and contemporary secondary data to trace Firestone Natural Rubber Company’s (Firestone) impact in Liberia from its arrival in 1926 to the present. It is written in response to repeated reports of misconduct on its plantation in Liberia. Socio-environmental theory and ‘extraversion’ theory are used as a theoretical basis revealing the impacts of the plantation economy that emerged in Liberia.  The initial concession agreement signed with Firestone and the United States Government in 1926 sold off Liberia’s land, work force and autonomy in exchange for national sovereignty in the eyes of Western powers. A pro-Western, anti-democratic oligarchy that was complicit in the disregard for the rights of its workers and citizens was legitimised and supported by the profits of transnational agribusinesses such as Firestone. To this day, Liberia remains struggling with these methods of extraversion and environmental degradation which stands as a blockade to its social and economic development. 

The podcast is an interview with Gregg Mitman, the author of ‘Empire of Rubber: Firestone’s Scramble for Land and Power in Liberia’. A professor of History of Science, Medical History, and Environmental Studies, Professor Mitman’s book gives an in depth look at the relationship between Firestone and the Liberian Government as well plantation life. A big source of information in my own writing, a discussion with Gregg talks about key topics discussed in his books.