Institute at Brown for Environment and Society

Dillon Webster



In Dillon Webster's current (dissertation) project, he approaches the field of ethno-religious relations within the medieval Mediterranean, centering institutions of hostelry and exchange in order to better understand the relationship between travel/migration and state formation. In a project that spans the Latinate and Islamicate shores of the Mediterranean, Dillon understands the Mediterranean as taking an active role in directing human actions. In this world of a shared climatological risk regime in which local strategies developed to confront 'global' challenges, individuals and corporate interests endeavored to create their own conditions, but could do so only within the limits region's tight environmental boundaries. In this formulation, high-volume middle-distance exchange/movement emerged as the key strategy to navigate the vicissitudes of the Mediterranean’s micro-ecologies. Webster's project, therefore, assumes a high degree of integration and assimilation across the Mediterranean region, as the dissemination of materials, ideas, and peoples generated shared cultural idioms, or a deep Mediterraneanness. ⁠Dillon constructs his understanding of history in and of the Mediterranean around this notion of continued and persistent contact and exchange and the self-similarity they generated. At its heart, this project explores the ways in which individuals and corporate interests interacted with the Mediterranean, as both an impetus and medium for movement, and the ways in which aspirational powers sought to harness the energy of 12th-14th century migrations to support their state building projects.