Stefan Stantchev earned his doctorate in history at the University of Michigan in 2009 and joined the faculty of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University shortly thereafter. Previously, he had completed a master's degree medieval studies from the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, and a master's degree in history from the University of Sofia, Bulgaria.
Stantchev's research interests focus on the religious and economic factors that shaped power relations within Europe and throughout the Mediterranean, circa 1000 to circa 1500. His work thus engages topics that are often treated separately, such as economic and church history, foreign policy and religious identity, family structures and networks of economic activity. It also transcends the boundaries typically drawn between Western, Byzantine, Ottoman and Balkan history. Consequently, his teaching interests are equally broad: ancient, medieval and modern Europe, Byzantine, Balkan and Ottoman history.
His first book, "Spiritual Rationality: Papal Embargo as Cultural Practice" (Oxford University Press, 2014), offers the first book-length study of embargo in a pre-modern period and provides a unique exploration into the domestic implications of this tool of foreign policy. During this time of an increasing papal role within Christian society, the church employed restrictions on trade with Muslims, pagans, 'heretics,' 'schismatics,' disobedient Catholic communities and individual Jews in order to facilitate papally-endorsed warfare against external enemies and to discipline internal foes. Various trade bans were originally promulgated as individual responses to specific circumstances. These restrictions, however, were shaped by the premise that sin and the defense of the decorum of the faith and Christendom condoned, or even required, papal intervention into the lives of the laity and by the text-based approach of popes and canonists. Papal embargo, consequently, was not only the sum total of individual trade bans but also a legal and moral discourse that classified exchanges into legitimate and illegitimate ones, compelled merchants to distinguish clearly between themselves as (Roman) Christians and a multitude of others as non-Christians, and helped order symbolically both the relationships between the two groups and those between church and laity. Papal embargo's chief relevance thus lay within Christian society itself, where it functioned as an intangible pastoral staff. While sixteenth-century developments undermined it as a policy tool and a moral discourse alike, papal embargo inscribed the notion of the immorality of trade with the enemy into European thought.
Stantchev's next book will explore the relations between Venice and the Ottoman Empire until ca. 1517. Stantchev's work on church history continues in collaboration with Benjamin Weber and traces the evolution of a set of ecclesiastical policies in the decisions of local synods, papal letters, and penitential manuals.
Stantchev has made presentations at conferences around the United States. He has conducted research at many archives and libraries, including the Vatican Archives and the Vatican Library in Vatican City, and the Italian State Archives in Venice and in Genoa. A former fellow of the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan, Stantchev has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and research grants from a variety of sources, including the Social Science Research Council, the Medieval Academy of America, and the American Historical Association.
Stefan Stantchev has served on the advisory board of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies since 2012.