TARII was established in 1989 to promote scholarly research on and in Iraq and ancient Mesopotamia. The Institute, a consortium of American universities and museums, intends to establish a multidisciplinary American scholarly research center in Iraq when conditions permit. TARII raises funds for graduate and post-graduate fellowships for Americans to work on Iraq in as broad a range of disciplines as possible. It also has a fellowship program for Iraqi academics to aid them in carrying out research in Iraq. TARII initiates its own research projects and fosters joint projects between American and Iraqi academics. Like similar American overseas research centers, TARII has as its primary focus the humanities and social sciences, as well as closely related natural sciences, but it will facilitate outstanding research in any legitimate academic field.
TARII was formerly the American Association for Research in Baghdad (AARB) and The American Academic Research Institute in Iraq (TAARII). For security reasons, TAARII has operated as The Academic Research Institute in Iraq (TARII) since 2017.