About

West African Research Association

The West African Research Association (WARA) was founded in 1989. WARA’s mission is to promote research and scholarly exchange between West African and US scholars and institutions. WARA supports the production and dissemination of knowledge on West Africa and the diaspora through its research fellowships, conferences, and publications; and through the many programs headquartered at WARA’s research center in Dakar, Senegal.

The West African Research Center (WARC) in Dakar, Senegal is WARA’s overseas headquarters and provides point of contact for researchers from throughout West Africa and their colleagues from the US and elsewhere. It provides scholars with a rich array of resources and supportive services including a research and film library, digitization lab, seminar rooms, computer and wireless Internet access, an on-site cafe, and a pleasant space in which to organize major international conferences, local seminars, and other scholarly and artistic projects.

Prior to WARA’s founding, no other institution of its kind had existed in sub-Saharan Africa. In 1989, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), with the help of a grant from the Smithsonian Institution, hosted the first meeting of African and American scholars to establish objectives for the association. This meeting is considered to be the “birthdate” of WARA. Under its umbrella within the Smithsonian Institution, CAORC is a network of American overseas research centers in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia. WARA is the only such center located in Sub-Saharan Africa. As a member of CAORC, WARA receives support from the Department of State annual grant to CAORC. This support allows WARA to offer a range of research fellowships to West African and US-based scholars. WARA also receives funding from the US Department of Education, funding which helps support its operations overseas and here in the US.

WARA is a member of the Association of African Studies Programs and is an affiliated member of the African Studies Association, thus linking it with mainstream organizations dedicated to the development of African area studies and research exchanges with sub-Saharan Africa. WARA programs complement the efforts of the National Resource Centers (NRC) for African Language and Area Studies (Title VI Centers) to improve the cross-cultural learning of students and faculty in the U.S. through study in Africa. As such, WARA’s programs help to address the NRC’s concern for quality infrastructure for overseas study and research programs in Africa.

 

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