You don’t have to know a lot about the modern history of Europe, to understand how important the role of the Balkans is in the geopolitical constellation of power. Both World Wars of the 20th century placed Serbia on the right side of history, and the Balkans were marked as an important battlefield, thus suffering great economical and human losses.

At the end of the last century, the Balkans were struck by a civil war which led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia, a six-country federation. Followed by economic sanctions, the bombing of Serbia and Montenegro, and their disintegration as one of the final stages of the so-called balkanization process, the beginning of the 2000s appeared like a new beginning.

The Balkan region, specifically the countries which constituted Yugoslavia, is thought to be very nationalist-oriented and susceptible to prejudice. But where do the Balkan nation-states stand when it comes to racial prejudice?

Based on a research by the University of Harvard, the majority of Balkan states associate more positive thoughts with dark skin. The research was conducted during a period of 13 years, from 2002 to 2015, and one of the results was the map of European countries which indicated the rate of implicit racial prejudice. Serbia is featured on this map in a vivid green color which stipulates the lowest rate of racism in Europe. 

This research is based on a “Project implicit” test, a short interactive quiz where participants pair words and pictures. One of the test components includes connecting positive and negative characteristics with black and white faces.

The countries the inhabitants of which connected negative attributes to black visages more often are the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. In the middle of the list are the following countries: France, Germany, Greece, and Sweden.

The general conclusion derived from this research is that residents of each European country make slower connections between black faces and positive descriptions. Also, researchers have noted that the non-existence of racial views does not protect from the implicit prejudice about other races.

Given the turbulent history the Balkan region has suffered and the strong tendencies of “europeanization” of what is considered uncivilized or underdeveloped in democracy terms, how should we understand the conclusions of this research?

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