African Diaspora in the New World

The Black Atlantic
African Diaspora in the New World

A joint initiative of The Council of American Overseas Research Centers:
The Americas Research Network
West African Research Association

Established in 1981, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) is a private not-for-profit federation of independent overseas research centers that promote advanced research, particularly in the humanities and social sciences. CAORC fosters the creation of new centers, secures funding for existing centers, promotes research projects across national boundaries, and encourages collaborative research among member centers.

The Americas Research Network (ARENET) exists since 1998 to promote. international collaboration. Its principal function is to serve as a catalyst in the design and implementation of projects that explore topics based on an exchange of perspectives across national, cultural, institutional, and disciplinary boundaries. ARENET´s organized as a consortium of diverse institutions —universities, museums, research institutes, and cultural centers — and extensively promotes connections between these institutions and local communities. In 2011, ARENET began considering expanding its areal focus to include South America and other areas of the Americas in addition to Mexico and the United States.

The West African Research Association (WARA) was founded in 1989 for the purpose of promoting scholarly exchange and collaboration between American and West African researchers and institutions. The principal objectives of WARA are: to provide American and West African scholars access to research resources and expand research opportunities; to create a point of contact for American and West African researchers, allowing the intersection of their respective research traditions; to facilitate collaborative research efforts, projects, and conferences; to reinforce institutions on both sides of the Atlantic; to supplement sources of documentation about the region; to award fellowships to both American and West African scholars; and to disseminate information on West Africa-related research. Since 2001, the American headquarters of WARA has been based in the African Studies Center of Boston University.

Framework: The most recent research on the African Diaspora has demonstrated its fundamental transnational origins and character. Beginning in the early 16th century, the constant movement of people, ideas, texts, and images throughout the Black Atlantic played a crucial role in the creation of African-based traditions in the Americas and also in the development of longstanding African cultural formations. The diversity of communities and cultures involved in the trans-Atlantic exchange enriched both the African Diaspora and had an impact on Africa as it exists today. Historical research on the processes that created specific cultural formations and ethnographic documentation of contemporary examples complement each other to provide a more profound understanding of this important transnational reality.

A wide variety of research topics could be explored within the framework of this initiative ranging from, from the role of the Slave Trade in the formation of the Kingdom of Benin in the 17th century to African Americans’ cultural tourism to West Africa as a “heritage activity” in the 21st century.

Activities of this joint initiative will include:

  • Developing an advisory Board of scholars from diverse disciplines affiliated with both organizations. to offer guidance in the design, development, and implementation of specific projects
  • Compiling inventories of existing and planned programs and projects on the theme of the African Diaspora in the New World.
  • Organizing conferences, symposia, workshops, publications, and other avenues for the exchange and diffusion of knowledge about this theme.
  • Coordinating an international exchange program to enable students, scholars, and others from each country to collaborate on research and educational programs.
  • Creating and maintaining a Web-based Black Atlantic Research Clearinghouse.
  • Pursue a funding strategy to support these activities.



Americas Research Network
Greta de León
Londres 39 - 102
Col. Juárez
Mexico, D.F. 06600


West African Research Association
Jennifer Yanco
African Studies Center
Boston University
270 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215

Professional Meetings

Research and Outreach Programs