Ethics in Action Podcast


Empires Strike Back - Did the “Balance of Power” Just Make a Comeback?: A Conversation with Vladimir Petrovic

April 1, 2022
For a while, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we could tell ourselves that the American-led liberal internationalist order was on the rise. That story had some big holes in it, but if we squinted a bit it was almost believable. Not "the end of history", but maybe a long vacation from it. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, its insistence on declaring a “sphere of influence” free from western intervention, and its alliance with China change everything.
Within a few weeks an older picture of international order - where great powers check each other and make sure none becomes ascendant - reemerged. Is the Balance of Power Back? Did it ever really go away? And if it is back, what’s next?

Vladimir Petrović  is a senior research fellow at the UMB Applied Ethics Center, and a senior researcher at the Institute for Contemporary History in Belgrade where he heads the Digital Center. He researches mass political violence and strategies of confrontation with its legacy. He studied contemporary history (Faculty of Belgrade: BA and MPhil) and Comparative history of Central and Southeastern Europe (Central European University: MA and PhD), completing his postgraduate studies at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam. He has taught at Boston University and was a recurrent visiting professor at Central European University.

Petrović’s doctoral project which started at CEU, evolved over the time into a book The Emergence of Historical Forensic Expertise: Clio takes the Stand (Routledge, 2017). It examines the role of historians and social scientists as expert witnesses in some of the most dramatic legal encounters of the 20th century. Petrovic was exploring this intersection between history and law, both in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and in the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office. Petrović published extensively on ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and attempts to undo its legacy, as well as on the history of nonalignment during the Cold War and the collapse of Yugoslavia. He is currently working on the discursive history of mass violence.


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