Translators : negotiating the contours of glocal policing in Bosnia and Herzegovina
MetadataShow full item record
In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), a paradigmatic example of a transitional post-conflict society governed by an externally-driven process of neo-liberal state-building, police reforms have played an important role in supporting the transposition of a particular variant of liberal order through security governance at the national and sub-national levels. This order is primarily constructed to reflect the interests of BiH’s supranational architect and benefactor since 2003: the European Union. It is less responsive to the interests or the needs of BiH citizens or constitutionally established governing institutions (Chandler 1999). Historically, prescriptions for police reform in BiH have been defined by various representatives of the international community in BiH rather than domestic policy makers or practitioners. They have also been glocally-responsive in their design. In other words, they have been introduced to generate policy alignment and to support the harmonisation of local policing mentalities and practices with the EU’s security interests in the Western Balkans as well as dominant ‘European’ approaches to controlling crime (Juncos 2011; Ryan 2011). In practice, however, it is evident that the outputs and outcomes generated by police reforms in BiH regularly deviate from their initial design. This is particularly evident in relation to a handful of community policing initiatives introduced in BiH over the past decade (e.g. Deljkic and Lučić‐Ćatić 2011). Using a meso-level analysis of two community-oriented policing projects implemented in 2011, this research draws on the conceptual framework of ‘policy translation’ (Lendvai and Stubbs 2006) to illuminate the agentive capacities of international development workers and local police practitioners and their role in shaping the conceptual and programmatic contours of glocally-responsive policing reforms in BiH. My first case study examines the translational capacity of international development workers at a major multi-lateral international development agency in BiH using an ethnographic account of my three-month placement with the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) ‘Safer Communities’ project in BiH in 2011. My second case study is used to illustrate the translational capacities of police practitioners working to implement an externally-initiated community policing project in Sarajevo Canton. Drawing from these case studies, I determine that the international political economy of global liberal governance and the interests of powerful global actors play only a limited role in affecting outputs and outcomes generated by internationally-driven police reforms. Rather, I argue that the concept of policy translation demonstrates that relatively disempowered actors like international development workers and local police practitioners can draw upon their agency and institutional resources to shape these policy making processes and in doing so, potentially contribute to more democratically responsive policing outputs and structures. My findings further suggest that important opportunities do exist for motivated reformers to foster deliberative forms of security governance in weak and structurally dependent societies like BiH and recognising and enhancing these can help to alleviate the potential consequences of introducing contextually or culturally inappropriate Western policing models to these societies. This is significant because it highlights the prospect of addressing the structural inequalities associated with global and transnational policing (Bowling and Sheptycki 2012), police reforms pursued in the context of liberal state-building projects (Ryan 2011) and donor-driven international police development assistance projects (Ellison and Pino 2012).