Despite the historical importance of slavery in many parts of the world anthropologists study, the subject remains somewhat marginal within the discipline. Much more has been written by historians, most of this dealing with the trans-Atlantic trade during which more than nine million Africans were transported to the New World, principally to work on European and American-owned plantations. Much of this historical work has dealt with the political and economic dimensions of the supply-side of the trade and its effects on coastal and interior populations of Africa (see also Wolf 1982:195-231), whilst more recent studies have added to our knowledge with some particularly fine social histories of slavery in the Caribbean and Southern United States. The subject was however largely ignored in modern anthropology until it received both ethnographic and theoretical attention in the 1970s from French Africanists working within a Marxist framework, and British and American scholars drawing on ethnohistorical data (see e.g. Meillassoux 1975; Miers and Kopytoff 1977).