In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide

  • Introduction
  • Historiography and Narration of the Holocaust, Ethnic Cleansing, and Genocide
  • Social, Political, Economic Consequences of Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide
  • Further Historical and Contemporary Cases beyond 20th-Century Europe

Military History Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide
H. Zeynep Bulutgil
  • LAST REVIEWED: 21 February 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 February 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791279-0226


The literature on ethnic cleansing, genocide in general, and the Holocaust in particular can be studied along conceptual, historiographical, and theoretical dimensions. The theoretical literature can further be divided into arguments that focus on the causes of ethnic cleansing and genocide, theories that relate to temporal or spatial variation during these events, and theories that are interested in the long or short-term consequences of these phenomena. The first section below provides the literature on the conceptual definition of ethnic cleansing and genocide, how these concepts relate to and differ from each other, and how they compare to similar or neighboring concepts such as mass violence, civilian victimization, and forceful displacement. The second section familiarizes the reader with the historical process and the historiographical debates that pertain to the Holocaust as well as other cases of genocide and ethnic cleansing. The third section is devoted to the causal and descriptive analysis of ethnic cleansing and genocide, including works by historians that focus on specific cases and works by political scientists and sociologists that offer more generalizable arguments. The fourth section explores the theories on within-case variation during episodes of genocide and ethnic cleansing. This literature deals with questions on the location of victims and participants as well as the responses of these actors to violence and repression. The fifth section turns its attention to the consequences of genocide and ethnic cleansing, including official and unofficial responses by governments following these events, refugee returns, and long-term political, social, and economic consequences of ethnic cleansing and genocide. The final section provides an overview of works that study cases of genocide and ethnic cleansing outside 20th-century Europe, which has received comparatively more attention in the literature. Taken together these five dimensions of literature cover the fundamental conceptual, theoretical, and informational landscape that students of these topics should begin with.

The Conceptual Landscape: Ethnic Cleansing and Related Concepts

One of the preconditions to understanding the causes and consequences of any phenomenon is to be aware of the fundamental criteria that define this concept and distinguish it from neighboring or similar concepts.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.