Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 356 pages.
Louise Shelley’s new book, Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective is the culmination of sixteen years of research, providing both an excellent introduction to human trafficking and a comprehensive examination of its growth. The book balances breadth and depth by combining firsthand accounts of field practitioners with the analyses of academic experts across the globe. Shelley illustrates how human trafficking’s exponential growth during the last twenty years was fueled by regional conflicts, globalization, and climate change. These factors displace populations, and make them vulnerable to exploitation in sectors ranging from agriculture to sex work. Shelley believes that in order to stem human trafficking’s current momentum there needs to be a concerted multilateral effort by organizations, government, and civil society, transcending political boundaries.
In attempting to be thorough, Shelley occasionally includes some controversial research claims. For example, while discussing trafficking in the United States, Orlando Patterson is cited claiming that the prevalence of exploitation within the African American community arises from “centuries of slavery [emasculating] the role of the father and [encouraging] . . . breeding of children without attention to their supervision.” However, Shelley refers to other experts, and her approach provides readers with a broad spectrum of knowledge. For those unfamiliar with the subject matter, Shelley’s research incorporates historical context and explains the push and pull factors behind human trafficking. Experts will find the book’s truly global perspective satisfying. Case studies cover multiple countries in every major region, from developing nations such as Nepal and China in Asia and Honduras and Brazil in Latin America, to developed nations such as the United States and Canada in North America. For its versatility, Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective deserves a place on anyone’s bookshelf.