Dr. Robert Greenberg

"Linguistic Analysis and Investigations of Crimes Against Humanity in Bosnia: Confessions of a Protected Witness"
Wednesday, May 7, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. in the Marvin K. Peterson Library


What does theoretical linguistics have to do with a trial where the charges are genocide and crimes against humanity? In this talk, Robert Greenberg discusses his work as a dialectologist in the former Yugoslavia.

He became an expert on the speech of Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims, and Montenegrins in the 1980s and after the wars of Yugoslav succession in the 1990s had the opportunity to apply this knowledge to assess crucial court evidence at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Come hear how linguistics and forensics intersect and how seemingly innocuous theoretical linguistic observations can serve to convict or absolve an accused war criminal.

Biographical Information

Robert Greenberg is the Associate Dean and a Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of New Haven as well as a Professor (Adjunct) in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale University. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1991, and has taught at Yale (1991-1992), Georgetown University (1992-1994) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1994-2003).

He is a specialist in South Slavic languages and linguistics, and has worked primarily on sociolinguistic issues in the former Yugoslavia. He has explored issues of language, nationalism, and ethnic identity both in Tito's Yugoslavia and in the years following Yugoslavia's breakup.

His publications include numerous books and articles on South Slavic and Balkan Slavic topics, including Language and Identity in the Balkans (Oxford University Press, 2004, second revised and expanded edition forthcoming in 2008), "Language, Nationalism, and the Yugoslav Successor States" (book chapter, 2001), "Language and the National Idea" (Prilozi na MANU, 2001), "Language Politics in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: The Crisis Over the Future of Serbian" (Slavic Review, 2000), "Dialects and Ethnicity in the Former Yugoslavia: The Case of Southern Baranja (Croatia)" (Slavic and East European Journal, 1998), "The Politics of Dialects Among Serbs, Croats, and Muslims in the Former Yugoslavia" (East European Politics and Societies, 1996), and The Balkan Slavic Appellative (Lincom Europa, 1996).

In 1999, Dr. Greenberg was a research fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and in 2001 he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Macedonia. His book, Language and Identity in the Balkans, received an award for the best book in Slavic Linguistics from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages in 2005.