One can define ethnic cleansing as a mass-scale, violent, and permanent removal of an ethnically defined group from one territory to a perceived external homeland. Deportations within a state were special in this regard because there was no vision of an external territory to which the cleansed population would be sent. It still needs to be explored why some states treated deported minorities worse than other states treated their supposed external enemies. This article examines the origins and three preconditions of ethnic cleansing: modern nationalism, the concept of the modern nation-state, and the development of population policy. It also discusses four major periods of ethnic cleansing: 1912–1925, ethnic cleansing under the hegemony of Nazi Germany (1938–1944), ethnic cleansing and the postwar order in Europe (1944–1948), and ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia (1991–1995).
Between 1990 and 2010, the political map of the Balkans and Caucasus changed as Communist regimes collapsed and border disputes escalated. Some of the most bitter conflicts were in areas where there were mixed populations with large ‘minority’ populations that did not recognize potential changes in their borders (Russians in Chechnya or Serbs in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo). Religious identities, heavily repressed during the Communist era, became a defining part of the rejection of that system. A revival of militant Islamism after the success of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran in 1979 radicalized politics in both the Balkans and the Caucasus. In the former Yugoslavia, Serb nationalists claimed that they were fighting against Islamic encroachment, which became effectively a self-fulfilling prophecy after 11 September 2001. Successionists and politicians eager to redraw boundaries cynically exploited the idea of an ideological purpose and traditional identities under threat to motivate and legitimize armed resistance.
Uradyn E. Bulag
This article invokes a Chinese political concept of ‘sinicization’, aiming to capture the nature of ethnic relations in China historically, and the political fate of ethnic groups in contemporary China. Sinicization has powerful genealogical and governmental dimensions; it is not primarily an ‘acculturation’ process as it is understood generally. Sinicization may not kill people directly, but it murders the non- Chinese sense of genealogical differences and their polities. The discussion concludes that sinicization has made a remarkable success in the PRC more than at any other time in Chinese history. Chinese policies have been directed at destroying the possibility that non-Chinese national identity might have any political meaning, at destroying the minorities' capacity to think and engage in politics independently as sovereign ethnic groups.