SOAS University of London

Centre of World Christianity

Dr Romina Istratii

BA Politics, Chinese, Economics (Bates College, USA), MA Gender and Development (IDS-University of Sussex, UK), PhD (SOAS)
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Romina Istratii
Department of Development Studies

Teaching Fellow and Research Associate

Centre of World Christianity

Research Associate

Dr Romina Istratii
Email address:
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Academic Support Hours:
Thursdays 3-4pm


Dr. Istratii is critical researcher and practitioner from Eastern Europe with more than eight years' experience in the sector of international development focusing on the African region. She has previously conducted independent fieldwork in Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Senegal with the support of various research grants and prestigious fellowships by funders that include the Thomas J. Watson Foundation in New York and the Tokyo Foundation in Japan. She has been especially committed to developing cosmology-sensitive and people-centred methodologies and approaches for analysing and addressing issues with gender dimensions in religious societies of Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.

In 2018, Dr. Istratii completed a three-year PhD study at SOAS, University of London (Direct Pass), which applied a critical lens on mainstream gender and development theories and approaches and proposed a decolonial engagement with contexts and societies that fall outside of Anglo-American epistemology and historical experience. It demonstrated the urgency and appropriateness for such an approach through a historiographical, theological, ethnographic and participatory study of conjugal abuse realities and attitudes in the Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahәdo community of Aksum city and the surrounding countryside.

As a result of advocating a better engagement with non-western theological traditions, Dr. Istratii has acquired research specialisation in Eastern Orthodox and other pre-Chalcedonian (also known as ‘Oriental Orthodox’) Christian Churches and traditions and currently serves as a Research Editor to multiple centres and platforms of Orthodox and Miaphysite theology and dogmatics. She is particularly versed in Orthodox theology of gender, marriage and the conjugal relationship and is keen on exploring its resourcefulness for addressing contemporary gender-related issues in Orthodox and Miaphysite Christian societies. She has previously conducted gender-related research also with Muslim communities of Africa and is involved in numerous inter-faith initiatives in the UK.

In addition, Dr. Istratii has been actively engaged in the effort to decolonise higher education institutions in the UK and Europe and to decentralise Euro-American epistemology from the domain of knowledge production. Since 2016, she has been an active member of the Decolonising SOAS Working Group and is serving as a Research Funding Officer at SOAS, leading some initiatives on decolonising research norms, strategies and approaches, especially in regard to global research ethics and funding structures and governance. She is particularly committed to raising awareness about on-going inequalities in higher education and knowledge production and to exposing the global matrix that perpetuates these, from funding and research development structures and norms to publications and dissemination models and individual attitudes.

Dr. Istratii is currently building on her research to develop alleviation strategies for intimate partner violence in partnership with Ethiopian theological colleges that can leverage on the resourcefulness of Orthodox apostolic theology of gender relations and marriage and the pastoral role of the local clergy in conjugal conflict. As part of this project, she has been developing with support of theology students in Addis Ababa an Amharic website on Orthodox dogmatics addressing inter alia genderrelated issues and conjugal abuse. She is also developing an online platform to promote a more dialogical, multilingual and accessible knowledge production and publication model globally that can contribute toward a more substantive decolonisation of knowledge. She is currently completing her monograph.


  • Alumna Fellow of the Gingko Fellowship programme that brings together top scholars of divinity from the UK and Egypt for inter-faith dialogue, Gingko Library, UK
  • Alumna Fellow of the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (SYLFF) Programme, The Tokyo Foundation, Japan
  • Ambassador for the Global Ecovillage Network, REDES: Réseau Pour L'Emergence Et Le Développement Des Ecovillages Au Sahel
  • Member of the British Association for the Study of Religions (BASR)
  • Member of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA)
  • Permanent Member of the European Consultancy Network (ECN)
  • Member of London Higher Europe, a consortium of higher education institutions, Brussels 
  • Member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), UK
  • Member of the European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN)



Dr. Istratii’s research interests are interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary, engaging development,
gender and religious studies. More specific areas of study/topics include:

  • The decentring of Anglo-American epistemology in gender, religious and development studies
  • The exposure of western feminist and gender metaphysics and ethical objections to their transposition cross-culturally
  • The integration of religious knowledge and belief systems in development theory and practice
  • The understanding and alleviation of intimate partner violence in Eastern Orthodox and Miaphysite Christian communities and other religious societies
  • The scoping and understanding of Eastern Orthodox and Miaphysite Christian missionaries and missionary NGOs and their approaches to community engagement
  • The study and deterrence of secular and religious radicalisation and violence globally

Dr. Istratii has previously provided consultancy and research support to academic and professional employers in the USA and Europe on a wide range of areas and topics, such as international development funding, gender and development, religions and development, violence and conflict resolution, public health, agricultural economics and nutrition and emerging economies. She is open for consultation on all these subject areas. She is also available for delivering reflexive trainings on gender, development and religions, conflict resolution and international cooperation to diplomatic missions, political leaders and other interested parties.



Istratii, Romina (2018) 'Beyond a feminist ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’: Reading St John Chrysostom’s commentaries on man-woman relations, marriage and conjugal abuse through the Orthodox phronema'. The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, (11) 2017-2018, pp 16-47.

Istratii, Romina and Hirmer, Monika and Lim, Iris (2018) 'Editorial I: Conference Proceedings ‘Decolonisation in Praxis’, SOAS 2018'. The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, (11), pp 6-9.

Lim, Iris and Istratii, Romina and Hirmer, Monika (2018) 'Introduction to Volume 11'. The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, (11) 2017-2018, pp 3-5.

Istratii, Romina (2018) 'Sensitising gender to local cosmology: A participatory ethnographic gender and development approach from a Muslim community in Senegal'. The Journal of Development Practice, (4), pp 8-23.

Hirmer, Monika and Istratii, Romina and Lim, Iris (2018) 'Editorial II: The Praxis of Decolonisation'. The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, (11) 2017-2018, pp 10-15.

Istratii, Romina and Porter, Helen (2018) 'Understanding the possibilities and limitations of open access publishing for decolonising knowledge-making and dissemination'. The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, (11) 2017-2018, pp 185-194.

Istratii, Romina (2017) 'Mainstream Gender and Development Concepts and Theories at the Interface with Local Knowledge Systems: Some Theoretical Reflections'. The Journal of Development Practice, (3), pp 1-13.

Istratii, Romina and Hirmer, Monika (2017) 'Introduction to Edition 10'. The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, (10) 2016-2017, pp 2-3.

Istratii, Romina and Hirmer, Monika (2017) 'Letter from the Editors'. The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, (10) 2016-2017, pp 4-8.

Istratii, Romina and Hirmer, Monika (2016) 'Introduction to Edition 9'. The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, (9) 2015-2016, pp 2-3.

Istratii, Romina and Hirmer, Monika (2016) 'Letter From the Editors'. The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, (9) 2015-2016.

Edited Books or Journals

Istratii, Romina and Hirmer, Monika and Lim, Iris, (eds.), (2018) Decolonisation in Praxis. UK: SOAS University of London. (The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research).

Hirmer, Monika and Istratii, Romina, (eds.), (2017) Exploring Fluid Times: Knowledge, Minds and Bodies. SOAS.. UK: SOAS University of London. (The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research Vol. 10 (2016-2017)).

Istratii, Romina and Hirmer, Monika, (eds.), (2016) Identities: Power and Politics. SOAS. (SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research; Vol. 9, 2015-2016).

Book Chapters

Istratii, Romina (2019) 'Orthodox'. In: Ross, Kenneth and Jeyaraj, Daniel and Johnson, Todd M., (eds.), Edinburgh Companions to Global Christianity Vol. 3 Christianity in South and Central Asia. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp 223-235.

Conference Items

Istratii, Romina and Lewis, Alex (2019) 'Introductory remarks and event structure' In: Applying a Decolonial Lens to Research Structures, Practices and Norms in Higher Education Institutions: A Conversation at SOAS for Funding Bodies in the UK, Research Development Staff and Researchers from Universities in the UK and Globally, 18 September 2019, SOAS University of London. [Unpublished]

Istratii, Romina (2019) 'Decolonising aetiologies and theories of IPV in public health scholarship and practice: Insights from an ethnographic study of conjugal abuse from an Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahәdo community' In: Development Studies Association Conference 2019, ‘Opening up Development’, 19-21 JUNE 2019, 2019, The Open University, Milton Keynes. [Unpublished]

Istratii, Romina (2019) '‘Religious fundamentalism’: Contemplating the epistemological, ethical and practical limitations of the conceptual category in its cross-cultural deployment' In: Strictly Observant Religion, Gender and the State, 25-26 March 2019, Woolf Institute, Cambridge University. [Unpublished]

Istratii, Romina (2019) 'Cross-cultural understanding and the recovery of histories in post-colonial times: An argument for epistemological decolonisation at SOAS, University of London' In: European Association of Archeologists Beyond Paradigms, 4-7 September 2019, Bern, Switzerland. [Unpublished]

Istratii, Romina (2019) 'Does the theoretical language of SDG 5 hinder understanding and addressing intimate partner violence cross-culturally? Some epistemological concerns and empirical insights from a religious society of Ethiopia.' In: Keeping Faith in 2030: Religions and the Sustainable Development Goals, 12-13 February 2019, SOAS University of London. [Unpublished]

Istratii, Romina (2018) 'Introductory Speech' In: Decolonisation in Praxis, 7 June 2018, SOAS University of London. [Unpublished]

Book Reviews

Istratii, Romina (2019) 'Book review: Religion and intimate partner violence: understanding the challenges and proposing solutions'. Journal of Religious & Theological Information.

Istratii, Romina (2017) 'Review of Wendy Urban-Mead, The Gender of Piety: Family, Faith, and Colonial Rule in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe, Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press 2015, xiv + 324 pp, ISBN 9-780821-421581'. Religion & Gender, (7) 2, pp 271-273.

Istratii, Romina (2016) 'Review of Afe Adogame. The Public Face of African New Religious Movements in Diaspora: Imagining the Religious 'Other.' Ashgate, 2014.'. British Association for the Study of Religions (BASR) Bulletin, (129), pp 29-31.


Istratii, Romina (2019) Gender and development through local epistemologies : understanding conjugal violence among orthodox Tawahedo Christians in northern Ethiopia and implications for changing attitudes and norms within local worldviews. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. [Unpublished]

Opinion Pieces / Media / Blogs

Istratii, Romina (2019) Research reflexivity in the current governance framework: Problematising trends and reconsidering the meaning of research ethics in ‘cultural translation’.

Istratii, Romina (2019) By Whose Standards? Religious Fundamentalism, Gender Equality and Cross-Cultural Differences.

Istratii, Romina (2019) Gender and development through local epistemologies : understanding conjugal violence among orthodox Tawahedo Christians in northern Ethiopia and implications for changing attitudes and norms within local worldviews. [Unpublished]

Istratii, Romina (2018) Harnessing local knowledge to address gender-related issues: A new model of development in religious communities?.

Istratii, Romina (2018) Terrain/Fieldwork: gender and development through local epistemologies.

Istratii, Romina (2018) Substantiating ‘Development’: Toward an Epistemology-Sensitive Development as Freedom?.

Istratii, Romina (2015) Using Traditional Patriarchal Institutions to Address Women’s Problems.


This list was last generated on Friday, 18th October 2019, 03:00 Europe/London.