The provisions on genocide protect four exclusive, amongst others the racial, groups. Yet, international criminal tribunals are manifestly uncomfortable with collective groupings and interpret ‘race’ rather inconsistently. Nevertheless, there is a tendency to a subjective approach based upon the perpetrator’s perception of the targeted group. The victim’s membership is accordingly not determined objectively, but by the perception of differentness. This article incorporates the theory of imagined identities into law, thereby providing tribunals with a tool to define ‘race’. Its essence is that even if the group does not exist, it must be granted protection because of its perceived and thereby socially relevant differentness. This partially socio-anthropological approach will have to be brought into conformity with the principle of strict legality. It will be demonstrated that the theory of imagined identities has been applied in case law, thereby enhancing not only its theoretical, but also its practical relevance.