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The Concept of Cultural GenocideAn International Law Perspective$
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Elisa Novic

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198787167

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198787167.001.0001

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The Concept of Cultural Genocide

The Concept of Cultural Genocide

A Historical–Legal Perspective

(p.17) 2 The Concept of Cultural Genocide
The Concept of Cultural Genocide

Elisa Novic

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a historical–legal analysis of the concept of ‘cultural genocide’ and the way in which Raphael Lemkin’s original ‘technique’ of genocide has been transformed throughout the twentieth century. It is argued that by anchoring the definition of genocide in a physical-biological perspective, as reflected in the 1948 Genocide Convention, international law has provided space for the concept to evolve as an autonomous form of genocide, also called ‘ethnocide’. This broader conception has in turn fuelled a defensive judicial interpretation of the legal definition of genocide, against the inclusion of processes of socio-cultural destruction that have then been re-qualified in terms of ‘forced assimilation’ or ‘ethnic cleansing’.

Keywords:   cultural genocide, ethnic cleansing, ethnocide, forced assimilation, forced removal of children, Genocide Convention, Raphael Lemkin, minority rights, technique

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