It’s everywhere – provided you know where to find it.
Years of research have taught Rochelle Dalla, associate professor, that the lesson applies both to the shadowy practice of human trafficking and the scattered information surrounding it.
Dalla will aim to assemble research and foster discourse on the issue by founding the recently approved Journal of Human Trafficking, which she cited as the first of its kind.
“It will be, as far as I know, the only quarterly journal in the world devoted just to trafficking,” said Dalla, a faculty affiliate of UNL’s Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools.
Published by Routledge, the peer-reviewed journal will release its first issue in early 2015.
“I really want this to become a centralized place of dissemination for people to go for the latest, cutting-edge information related to trafficking,” said Dalla, who will serve as editor-in-chief of the journal. “In that respect, I would expect the impact to be a better understanding of what’s happening out there in terms of research and programming.”
In preparing the proposal she would eventually submit to Routledge, Dalla conducted online searches for trafficking-related information. The resulting articles came from more than 75 academic publications with emphases ranging from geography to religious studies, she said, illustrating the need to consolidate scholarship on the subject.
“There’s so much knowledge and information out there,” Dalla said, “but the scholars and people who are developing programs don’t necessarily have access to all that, just because they don’t always know where to look.”
Dalla noted that human trafficking need not involve the actual transport of its victims, broadly defining the practice as “the use of force, fraud or coercion in the exploitation of other people.” She said trafficking’s many forms include bonded labor, the cultivation of child soldiers, and the sale or abduction of women and girls into the commercial sex industry — the focus of her own research.
The new journal will highlight research on these and many other types of human trafficking. It will also encourage submissions from the full array of academic disciplines studying the practice.
“It’s going to be totally interdisciplinary,” Dalla said, “because it really has to be.”
Dalla is also leveraging the power of the Web to compile resources for those who study and combat trafficking. She’s begun collaborating on a new website that will specifically provide information on trafficking in India, where she previously conducted research.
Designed in conjunction with students from UNL’s Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, the website should be completed by summer 2014.
“The ultimate outcome will be a website that has as much information as possible about anti-trafficking people and organizations in all of India,” Dalla said. “It really is just a way of [getting] all this information together so that people who want to do anti-trafficking work are actually able to do that work.”
The website might also serve as a template for sharing anti-trafficking resources available in other parts of the world.
“What (the students) are doing is creating a prototype,” she said. “The code and the algorithms they’re using ought to be able to be manipulated so that they can (ultimately) be applied to other countries.”
Dalla believes the projects could shape future research and programming related to trafficking worldwide.
“What I would expect is that, five or 10 years down the road, there will be five, six, seven, eight journals all devoted to human trafficking,” Dalla said. “I really hope that these (projects) open up that kind of dialogue.”