From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Ethnic cleansing refers to various policies or practices aimed at the displacement of an ethnic group from a particular territory in order to create a supposedly ethnically "pure" society. The term entered English and international usage in the early 1990s to describe certain events in the former Yugoslavia. Its typical usage was developed in the Balkans, to be a less objectionable code-word meaning genocide, but its intent was to best avoid the obvious pitfalls of longstanding international treaty laws prohibiting war crimes. This Orwellian term has since become still more Orwellian, because it is occasionally used as a claim of war crimes, when no war crimes actually exist. For example, ethnic cleansing has become improperly used to describe a situation wherein poorer ethnic groups are being displaced economically, by other, generally more affluent ethnic groups.