This paper combines a cultural analysis of this loose coalition of researchers with a materialist analysis of their research infrastructure in order to show how local and international interests interacted to shape fisheries science, production, and consumption. I focus on the Michigan State University-based Project on the Lakes of East Africa, which received an International Peace and Security grant from the MacArthur Foundation to compare the “sick” Lake Victoria with the “healthy” Lake Malawi. The personal papers of the four social scientists who comprised PLEA illuminate a web of connections between fishing communities, East African governments, and international researchers. Debates between researchers about their credentials, racial identities, and relationships with capital and the state unfolded alongside attempts to reduce inequality in their access to research infrastructures, such as boats, computers, and libraries. The documents generated during these conflicts offer a rare window into historical connections between ecological research and environmental change.
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