SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Romina Istratii

BA Politics (Hons), Chinese (Hons), Economics (Bates College, USA) MA (Distinction) Gender and Development (IDS-University of Sussex, UK)
  • Overview
  • Research


Romina Istratii
Miss Romina Istratii
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Thesis title:
Gender and Development through Local Epistemologies: Understanding Conjugal Violence among Orthodox Täwahәdo Christians in Northern Ethiopia and Implications for Changing Attitudes and Norms within Local Worldviews
Year of Study:
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Romina Istratii is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Religions and Philosophies at SOAS. Her current PhD project is an interdisciplinary study of spousal abuse attitudes among the Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahәdo community in Northern Ethiopia. She has previously completed gender-sensitive research in a number of African countries as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow and has worked as researcher and consultant in the sector of international development for seven years. As a critical practitioner, Ms Istratii has been working to attune theory and practice to non-western and non-secular epistemologies which have been neglected in the western epistemological framework that prevails. Ms Istratii has served since 2016 as the Co-editor-in-Chief of The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research. In 2018 she was selected by SOAS to participate in its first-year Open Access Champions Scheme, which aims to promote awarness of Open Research among SOAS faculty and students. Ms Istratii views opening up research as a first step toward the decentring of western epistemology in the making of knowledge, an objective that has underpinned both her professional career and research activities.

PhD Research

This dissertation contributes to the domestic violence field in Ethiopia and internationally by presenting an ethnographic study of local attitudes and realities of conjugal violence embedded within the religio-cultural normative framework of the general population in two rural communities of Aksum, Tigray. The study employed an innovative methodology and engaged both male and female members of the general population. The objective of this research is to start to expose the religio-cultural, gender and psychological underlayer of conjugal violence in the specific society in order to identify needs for further research and to explore what might be resources for attitudinal, behavioural and normative change in the local belief and value system, and especially the potential of theology-informed and clergy-centred interventions in view of the value that the indigenous faith appears to have for the local people. In this sense, the study has a gender and development orientation but seeks, however, to be guided by local worldviews and conceptual repertoires.



  • “Decolonisation in Praxis.” Co-organised the first joint Symposium delivered by the Research Students’ Association and The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research. SOAS, University of London, 7 Jun 2018.
  • “Mission Of Love: Visiting the Christian And Muslim Communities Of Syria.” Supported the conference delivered by the Centre of World Christianities. SOAS, University of London, 1 Jun 2018.
  • “Communities in Crisis Conference: Exploring the Impact of Events Post 2003 on the Christian, Mandaean and Yezidi Communities of Syrian and Iraq.” Supported the two-day workshop and conference delivered by the Centre of World Christianities. SOAS, University of London, 22-23 Apr 2016.
  • “First Pan-African Seminar Series of 2017-18: Decolonising Knowledge-Making One Project at a Time: Researching Spousal Abuse Perceptions and Attitudes among Ethiopian Täwahәdo Christians in Aksum, Tigray through Local Religio-cultural Epistemologies.” Presented at the Centre for African and Oriental Studies (CAfOS) at Addis Ababa University (AAU). Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 28 Sep 2017.
  • “CFEE Joint Seminar On Contemporary Ethiopia And The Horn Of Africa (2017-2018): Researching Spousal Abuse Perceptions and Attitudes among Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahәdo Believers and Clergy in Aksum.” Presented at the French Centre of Ethiopian Studies (CFEE) and the Sociology Department at Addis Ababa University (AAU). Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 20 Sep 2017.
  • “Gender and Development, Orthodox Christianity and Domestic Violence.” Presented at the workshop “Religions and Development: Redrawing a Research Agenda” oganized by SOAS and DSA (Development Studies Association). SOAS, University of London, 29 Apr 2016.



  • Gender Metaphysics
  • Epistemological Colonialism
  • Eastern and Oriental Christianities
  • Decolonisation of Knowledge-making
  • Human Aggression
  • Fundamentalism and Violence
  • Intimate Partner Violence