The West African Research Center (WARC) is the overseas research
center for The West African
Research Association (WARA). It is located in Dakar, Senegal. WARC
is a center for academic exchange between American and West African
scholars that encourages research on the region of West Africa. The
idea for the overseas center came about in May 1992 and was implemented
in the fall of 1993. Since its inception, WARC has grown both in terms
of staff and influence as it continues to connect researchers in the
USA with researchers in the region of West Africa interested in common
The center opened under the directorship of Dr.
Eileen Julien with the assistance of WARA members
Mr. Mustapha Kane, Prof. Oumar Ndongo, Mr. Babacar Fall, Mr. Hamadi
Bocoum, and Mr. El Hadj Diop. Mr. Abdoulaye Barry and Mr. Babacar Kante,
both in Saint-Louis lent the WARC staff their expertise in the fields
of linguistics and law, respectively .
In September 1995, Dr.
Leigh Swigart from University
of Pennsylvania became the director of WARC. During Dr. Swigart's tenure
at WARC, the initial efforts of the center began to blossom as all the
West African scholars chosen during Dr. Julien's directorship traveled
to the U.S. to continue their research in U.S. institutions. In June
1997, a symposium was held on "West Africa and the Global Challenge."
In late June, Dr. Leigh Swigart vacated the Director position and the
center moved to its new location in Fann-Residence
in August 1997 at Rue E x Leon G. Damas in Fann Residence under the
guidance of Prof. Oumar Ndongo.
Dr. Robert Mortimer from
Haverford University joined the WARC family as Director in January 1998.
He vacated the director position at the end of June and Prof. Ndongo
became the interim director.
In July 1998, testing began at WARC as it became an official site for
Sylvan (Now Prometric), monitoring testing for exams such as TOEFL,
GMAT, GRE, etc...
In January 1999, Dr.
Fiona McLaughlin from University of Kansas (Lawrence)
joined the WARC staff and served as Director until July in the same
year and kept with the tradition of activities focusing on Africa and
the Diaspora. In January Mr. Robert Hemingway, Chancellor of the University
of Kansas spoke on "Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography" at WARC
co-hosted by USIS-Dakar to an audience of 80 people.
Wilson-Fall joined WARC
in October 1999. Dr. Wilson-Fall's previous research and residence in
West Africa holds significance in the hope of having a long term Director
that can lead WARC into the new century. The staff and those who participate
in the operation of WARC are assets to the overall vibrancy of the center
in conjunction with the research that occurs. While the preparations
for the opening of the RED Center were completed in late 1999, the Center
had been awaiting the arrival of necessary technical equipment for the
project to begin.
The summer of 2000 was yet another enriching one as it
included activities in the WARC tradition of exchange. On June 5, 2000,
WARC was honored to have Dr. Edris Makward, WARA President and Professor
Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin at Madision speak on his work-in-progress.
Dr. Makward presented on his semi-autobiography in a presentation entitled
From Thiago to Madison (USA): The Road of An Authentic Waalo-Waalo
Griot. On July 13, 2000 WARC hosted a talk by Dr. Steve Golub
(Swarthmore College) and Mr. Ahmadou Aly Mbaye (UCAD) on "Senegal's
International Competitiveness: Case Studies of the Groundnut, Fishing
and Textile Sectors." This collaboration is a result of a new fellowship
offered by WARA that encourages American and West African scholars researching
common issues to work together on their joint interests. Dr. Fiona McLaughlin
suggested such a program upon her departure as Director of WARC. Programs
like the Collaborative Scholars-in-Residence Fellowship Program are
crucial to true exchange of scholarship, as the two researchers involved
are to produce a research work in which they jointly participated.
Currently, Dr.Ousmane Sene
is serving as the Director of WARC since Dr.Wendy Wilson-Fall resigned
from the position in the summer of 2004. Dr. Ousmane
Sene serves as Professor of African Literature at Cheikh Anta DIOP University.
He is also the coordinator of various student exchange university programs
such as that of Mount Holyoke College, Wells College, Michigan State
University and the Minnesota Studies for International Development (MSID)
Program all based in the Center.
WARC is an asset to West Africa and those who seek to
find out more about it. It remains a "central" place where scholarships
on West Africa can be housed as well as a positive force in encouraging
new and interesting research on the region. With the promise of a longer
termed Director and continued interest in the region of West Africa,
WARC is destined to be a driving force in the also important connection
between the Americas and West Africa. This will serve not only researchers
seeking to 'discover' the region for scholarly and academic reasons,
but also those interested in the development of the region for social
and economic reasons. WARC should keep its efforts to be recognized
on college and university campuses both in the United States and in
West Africa, as well as making itself known to other organizations,
such as international businesses and organizations interested in the
region. These places could benefit from the scholarship produced at
WARC and the assistance it could provide in integrating people, ideas
(and even products) in West Africa. WARC's influence is multi-faceted
as a forum of information that can be utilized by not only academics,
but all those with an interest in West Africa.
- Missions and Goals
WARC promotes scholarly research on West Africa and the Diaspora
and works to foster cooperation between American and West African researchers,
students and artists. In its development from initial conception to
project planning, the Center seeks the active participation and cooperation
of both West African and American scholars in order to identify and
meet the needs of both communities. WARC specifically aims to:
- Encourage collaborative research between American and West African
researchers, universities, and relevant institutions through a program
of research fellowships and the organization of colloquia, seminars,
and workshops on topics of both general and scholarly interest.
- Make available to West African and visiting researchers a research
library, computer facilities, and a computer network capable of
sustaining significant research efforts by providing up-to-date
data and information on West Africa and the Diaspora.
- Provide a forum in which both local and foreign researchers may
conduct and share their work, and create a transnational community
of scholars and researchers.
- Promote interdisciplinary approaches and considerations of gender
in the study of West Africa and the African Diaspora.
- Gather, catalogue, and disseminate the results of research on
The Center sponsors international colloquia, research programs,
and round tables on published research, lectures and workshops by visiting
and local scholars and writers. WARC has administered an annual short-term
research fellowship competition for scholars from West Africa to travel
to U.S. host universities, assisted American scholars conducting research
in Senegal and West Africa, sponsored internships for graduate students,
and served as the host institution for individual and group projects
of American students and Faculties.
The Center's current sponsors include the U.S. Department of Education
and the Government of Senegal.. From the West African side, AROA has
members in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote D'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea Bissau,
Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo.