SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Jacien G. Carr (Jay)

BA (The Ohio State University), MA (SOAS)
  • Teaching
  • Research


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Jacien G. Carr (Jay)
Email address:
Thesis title:
The Poro: Society, Community and Perception in Liberian and Sierra Leone during the 19th Century
Year of Study:


Jacien is a United States citizen from Liberia. He is a PhD student with the Department of History. His area of concentration is African Military History.

PhD Research

The purpose of this study is to write Poro Society history in Liberia and Sierra Leone during the 19th century through a comparative historical examination of how Poro concepts (society control, warfare and trade) were created. Attention will be placed on the language that was used to describe the Poro by examining the imagery and ideas that it created. This will be done while attempting to identify actual African agency in the narratives of the Poro. To accomplish this task, I will anaylse the primary and secondary literature on the Poro. In addition, I will consult non-traditional sources such as Poro elders and, if possible, Vai and Mende texts, the original languages of the Poro.

Our knowledge and perceptions of the Poro expanded during the 19th century due to increased British engagement with the Sierra Leonean hinterland. In Liberia, the interaction between the re-settled African Americans and the Gola and Vai ethnic groups after 1822 gave us our first in depth look at how the Poro operated in that region. The 19th century is therefore pivotal to our early understanding of the Poro. A prominent theme of the Poro during the 19th century is warfare and the Poro’s ability to mobilize its members for political or economic objectives. In fact, it could be stated that warfare was a tool that the Poro employed to achieve some of these objectives. This study will also devote special attention to the Poro’s relationship to war and organized violence. Keeping in mind that traditions change and are reinvented, critically analysing the Poro’s ability to maintain its autonomy, and to further its political objectives through warfare during the 19th century will provide us with a solid foundation to evaluate continuity and discontinuity in the Poro.
In my anaylsis, I have developed the concept of a Poro War and Poro warfare. Poro War is the Poro's use of its traditions, socialization and metaphysical practices to mobilize and spiritually fortify its members for war. Poro warfare it is the act of the Society applying Poro War to achieve a military, political or an economic objective.


  • Carr on Piombo, 'The US Military in Africa: Enhancing Security and Development?' H-Net Reviews, March 3, 2018.
  • Meet Mayor-Elect Wilmot Collins of Helena Montana"" Bush Chicken, Nov. 28, 2017.
  • Professionally Trained Liberian Historians Wanted"" Bush Chicken, Oct. 18, 2017.


  • 7th European Conference on African Studies (ECAS7)


  • Asst. Editor, Secrecy, Journal of Poro Studies
  • Society for Military History
  • United States Commission on Military History
  • The Ohio State University Alumni Association
  • United States Marine Corps Veteran



  • African Military History
  • General Military History
  • Insurgency and Counterinsurgency Warfare
  • Wars of National Liberation
  • African History
  • Liberian History
  • Sierra Leonean History
  • World War II History 
  • History of the Vietnam War