SOAS University of London

SOAS academic awarded a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship for ground-breaking research and innovation project addressing domestic violence in religious communities

15 October 2020

Dr Romina Istratii, Honorary Research Associate to the Centre of World Christianity and the Department of Development Studies at SOAS, has been awarded a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship (£1,287,659) to bring to fruition a challenging and novel project titled “Bridging religious studies, gender & development and public health to address domestic violence: A novel approach for Ethiopia, Eritrea and the UK.”

Dr Istratii is one of 101 Fellows based at UK universities and businesses supported through an investment of £109 million. The Future Leaders Fellowships scheme is designed to establish the careers of world-class research and innovation leaders across the UK.

UKRI’s initiative aims to support the creation of a new cohort of research and innovation leaders who will have links across different sectors and disciplines. Awardees will each receive between £400,000 and £1.5 million over an initial four years. The grant supports challenging and novel projects, and the development of the fellow’s career. The funding can also be used to support team members, their development, and pay for equipment and other needs.

Dr Romina Istratii said: “This project builds on lifelong work to decolonise international development theory and practice and is the product of partnerships of trust and mutual respect. I am thrilled to be venturing on this ambitious project, which I hope will help toward addressing domestic violence cross-culturally and improving human lives.”

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “Future Leaders Fellowships provide researchers and innovators with freedom and support to drive forward transformative new ideas and the opportunity to learn from peers right across the country. The fellows announced today illustrate how the UK continues to support and attract talented researchers and innovators across every discipline to our universities and businesses, with the potential to deliver change that can be felt across society and the economy."

Dr Istratii’s project is dedicated to the development and strengthening of religio-culturally sensitive domestic violence alleviation systems in Ethiopia, Eritrea and the UK. The project seeks to promote a decolonial approach to addressing domestic violence by engaging substantively with the religio-cultural belief systems of domestic violence victims/survivors and perpetrators and understanding how these interface with gender, material and psychological parameters to facilitate or deter domestic violence. It will generate new research and intervention approaches working with Ethiopian and Eritrean collaborators and rural and urban communities and will apply knowledge from the respective countries to inform approaches for integrating and supporting better ethnic minority and migrant populations affected by domestic violence in the UK. It will aim to bridge different disciplines and theoretical paradigms of domestic violence to achieve more integrated alleviation approaches across secular and religious sectors and stakeholders. 

The project includes numerous partners and collaborators in the three countries: Aksum University (Ethiopia), the St Frumentius Abba Selama Kessate Berhan Theological College (Ethiopia), the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (Ethiopia), Diversity Resource International (UK) and its sister-branch Waniney (Eritrea), the University of Bristol (UK) and the University of Sheffield (UK).