Ethnic Cleansing: The Term, The Practice | Salem State University Skip to main content

Ethnic Cleansing: The Term, The Practice

Vladimir Petrovic, Boston University

Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies Research Conversation Series Presents:

Vladimir Petrovic, Boston University
Ethnic Cleansing: The Term, The Practice

In his presentation, Petrovic will discuss the history and issues at stake in the current debate over the use of the term “ethnic cleansing.” The term ‘cleansing’ has been in circulation from antiquity to modernity as a euphemism for political violence:  how and why did it become “ethnicized”?  What caused the notorious revival of this obscure concept during the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s? With these questions firmly in mind, Petrovic’s talk will explore the provocative current debate over this problematic term and its contemporary manifestations. The increasingly indiscriminate application of “ethnic cleansing” has triggered much criticism, as well as a call for the abolishment of the phrase from contemporary academic discourse, but—as this talk will demonstrate—eradicating the term may indeed be as difficult as extinguishing the violent practices it describes.

Biographical Note

Vladimir Petrovic is a senior researcher at the Pardee School, Boston University. He graduated from Contemporary History (Faculty of Belgrade: BA and MPhil) and Comparative History of Central and Southeastern Europe (Central European University: MA and PhD). His latest book, The Emergence of Historical Forensic Expertise: Clio takes the Stand (Routledge, 2017) examines the role of historians and social scientists as expert witnesses in some of the most dramatic legal encounters of the 20th century. Petrovic worked in this intersection between history and law, both in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and in the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office.


When 5:00pm
Enterprise Center, Central Campus
121 Loring Avenue, Salem, MA 01970
Harrington Room
Catherine S Hennessey

For access and accommodation information, visit or email

Back to top