Beyond Ethnic Cleansing: Demographic Surgery in European History

JVF Conference Papers

Ethnic cleansing is generally recognized as a major feature of modern European history, especially of the extremely violent first half of the 20th century.

While this is certainly a plausible description, this is only a part of a bigger story: in this short essay, I will argue that ethnic cleansing was just one of the many possible occurrences of a phenomenon which I am going to call “demographic surgery” – which I define as the category-based removal of whole segments of a population from a given territory.

As we will see, demographic surgery could also be carried out according to non-ethnic criteria, and it had some very significant consequences and implications which are often overlooked.

Download pdf