Who We Are
WARA is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the promotion of research on West Africa and the diaspora, scholarly exchange, the dissemination of accurate information on West Africa and its diasporic communities, and increasing awareness of the critical place of West Africa in the global community.
Founded in 1989, WARA’s mission is to promote research and scholarly exchange between West African and US scholars and institutions 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 a wide range of resources and support for researchers from the US, West Africa, and beyond. 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.
WARA is a member of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC). Founded in 1981, CAORC is a private not-for-profit federation of 24 independent overseas research centers that promotes international scholarship and higher educational opportunities for graduate students and faculty, particularly in the humanities and social sciences. WARA is the only such center located in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Prior to WARA’s founding, no other institution of its kind had existed in sub-Saharan Africa. In 1989, 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. 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.