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When Bosnia was a Commonwealth country: British forces and their interpreters in Republika Srpska 1995-2007

Baker, Catherine

Authors

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Dr Catherine Baker Catherine.Baker@hull.ac.uk
Research Coordinator for History and Senior Lecturer in 20th Century History



Abstract

This paper discusses the working experiences of foreign military forces' employees in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) with reference to oral history interviews with fourteen people who were employed as language intermediaries by British forces in the Banja Luka area. Banja Luka, the capital of Republika Srpska (one of the political entities established under the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995), was also the site of the British-led divisional headquarters, which represented one of the largest bases of the multi-national NATO force. The accounts of locally-employed interpreters point to the production of a semi-British cultural space within the Banja Luka area that has carried over into interpreters' homes and friendship networks. However, they also show many factors impeding affinity between interpreters and the force, in the perceived unfairness of local employees' contracts and an upsetting lack of cultural knowledge that interpreters observed in many soldiers. The paper traces the history of British forces and their interpreters in and around Banja Luka from the opening of the Banja Luka Metal Factory base in December 1995 to the closure of the base in 2007.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 1, 2012
Print ISSN 1363-3554
Electronic ISSN 1477-4569
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 74
Issue 1
Pages 131-155
APA6 Citation Baker, C. (2012). When Bosnia was a Commonwealth country: British forces and their interpreters in Republika Srpska 1995-2007. History workshop journal : HWJ, 74(1), 131-155. doi:10.1093/hwj/dbs018
DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/hwj/dbs018
Keywords Bosnia-Herzegovina; Republika Srpska; Interpreters; Peace operations