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)
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Publications


Romina Istratii
Department of Religions and Philosophies, School of History, Religions and Philosophies

Senior Teaching Fellow

Centre of World Christianity

Research Associate

Department of Development Studies

Teaching Fellow and Research Associate

Research and Enterprise Directorate

GCRF Project Officer

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:
By appointment


Dr Romina Istratii is Research Associate to the Department of Development Studies and the Centre of World Christianity at SOAS.  She previously served as Senior Teaching Fellow to the School of History, Religions and Philosophies. She also acts as SOAS’s GCRF Project Officer, focusing on improving SOAS processes in building strong and healthy international collaborative research with partners in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Dr Istratii has been an active member of the Decolonising SOAS Working Group since 2016, initiating the Decolonising Research Initiative under the aegis of the SOAS Research Directorate in 2019. She is also co-founder of Decolonial Subversions (together with Monika Hirmer), an open access, multilingual, peer reviewed publishing platform that aims to subvert western epistemology and to contribute to the diversification of knowledge production.

Dr. Istratii is critical researcher and practitioner from Eastern Europe with ten years' experience in the sector of international development focusing on the sub-Saharan 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 other regions of the world.

In 2018, Dr. Istratii completed a three-year PhD study at SOAS, University of London (Direct Pass), which applied a critical lens to 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. Dr Istratii’s research and approach is presented in her monograph Adapting Gender and Development to Local Religious Contexts: A Decolonial Approach to Domestic Violence in Ethiopia.

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 to explore its resourcefulness in addressing contemporary gender-related issues in Orthodox and Miaphysite Christian societies. Her research in Ethiopia has evolved into the HFGF-funded project “Religion, conscience and abusive behaviour: Understanding the role of faith and spirituality in the deterrence of intimate partner violence in rural Ethiopia.”

She has also been editing with the support of theology students in Addis Ababa an Amharic webpage on Orthodox Dogmatics, which aims to address social issues, including gender-related asymmetries and conjugal abuse, in a theologically-informed manner and to promote mutual understanding across the Eastern Orthodox and the pre-Chalcedonian Christian Churches. She has previously also conducted gender-related research 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 decentre Anglo-American epistemology from the domain of knowledge production and to better bridge scientific research with lived experiences and societal issues. She is particularly committed to raising awareness about on-going epistemological inequalities and to exposing the global matrix that perpetuates these, from funding and research development structures and norms to publications and dissemination models and individual research attitudes. She currently co-coordinates the SOAS-OXFORD Research for Development (R4D) Series, which aims to change the narrative around development research and to encourage ethical, reflexive and dialogical research practices internationally. She also hosts on behalf of Decolonial Subversions the series “UNCENSORED CONVERSATIONS: Promoting Open and Critical Discussion about COVID-19 and its Consequences”, which aims to explore the more critical social scientific, philosophical and ethical questions emerging in the public health crisis and its handling by different governments across the world.


  • 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)
  • 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 Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA, UK)
  • 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.


Authored Books

Istratii, Romina (2020) Adapting Gender and Development to Local Religious Contexts: A Decolonial Approach to Domestic Violence in Ethiopia. London: Routledge. [Forthcoming]


Istratii, Romina and Hirmer, Monika (2020) 'Editorial Cross-cultural Engagements in Decolonial Times: Subverting Euro-centric Structures, Epistemologies and Ontologies'. Decolonial Subversions, (2020), pp 3-12.

Istratii, Romina and Demeter, Márton (2020) 'A Plan S és a tudományos tudás "hozzáférhetővé tétele": kritikai kommentár'. Decolonial Subversions, (2020), pp 13-21.

Istratii, Romina and Demeter, Márton (2020) 'Plan S and the 'opening up' of scientific knowledge: A critical commentary'. Decolonial Subversions, (2020), pp 13-21.

Istratii, Romina (2019) 'Epistemological reflexivity and labyrinthine ethnography: insights from a gender-sensitive study of conjugal abuse in a religious society'. Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford Online, (XI) 1, pp 25-52.

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.


Gebrselassie, Elias and Adhanom G.Y, Fresenbet and Istratii, Romina (2019) 'ለኦርቶዶክስ ጋብቻ መመሪያ - የቅዱስ ዮሐንስ አፈወርቅ ሰባት ስብከቶች ስለ ወንድ እና ሴት፡ የትዳር ሕይወትና የትዳር ላይ ጥቃት' Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries (Amharic), 2019.

Conference Items

Istratii, Romina (2020) 'Building strong and healthy research partnerships during the PhD experience: A decolonial approach' In: SeNSS Virtual Conference - Pathway sessions (Development Studies), 17 July 2020. [Unpublished]

Istratii, Romina (2020) 'Substantiating the elusive language of partnerships for development: From ‘equitable’ to reflexive, dialogical and honest' In: Stronger Together: Partnerships for the Global Goals, 9 July 2020, London International Development Centre.

Istratii, Romina (2020) 'UKRI Gender Equality Statement: Understanding the Risks of ‘Gender Planning’ and Suggestions towards Gender-sensitive, Locally-embedded Approaches' In: SOAS-Oxford Research for Development Lunchtime Series, 30 January 2020, SOAS University of London.

Istratii, Romina (2020) 'Bridging the Epistemological, Structural and Normative in Knowledge Production: How Euro-centrism is Systemically Preserved and Can Be Subverted' In: LSE Africa Talks: Decolonising African Knowledge Systems, 16 January 2020, LSE.

Istratii, Romina and Lewis, Alex (2019) 'Applying a Decolonial Lens to Research Structures, Norms and Practices in Higher Education Institutions: Conversation Event Report' In: Applying a Decolonial Lens to Research Structures, Norms and Practices in Higher Education Institutions, 18 September 2019, SOAS University of London: Research and Enterprise Directorate. [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 (2020) 'Pursuing A Decolonial Academic Career Path in Times of Crises (Interview)'.

Istratii, Romina (2015) 'Nεανικές Ανησυχίες - Ρομίνα Ιστράτη (ΥOUTH CONCERNS - Romina Istratii Interview)'.


Istratii, Romina (2020) 'Research Ethics: Developing Best Practice for Researching in the Global South - Romina Istratii Interview'.


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 (2020) Contemplating the impact of restrictions on the religious life of ethnic minority and migrant communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gebrselassie, Elias and Istratii, Romina (2020) Restricting religious practice in the era of COVID-19: The case of the Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahәdo community.

Istratii, Romina (2020) Restricting religious practice in the era of COVID-19: A de-westernised perspective on religious freedom with reference to the case of Greece.

Istratii, Romina (2020) The LONG READ on DECOLONISING KNOWLEDGE: How western Euro-centrism is systemically preserved and what we can do to subvert it.

Istratii, Romina (2020) Μια σύντομη γενεαλογική ανάλυση της έννοιας του «κοινωνικού φύλου» στην δυτική φεμινιστική θεωρία: Η πορεία προς την διχοτόμηση του ανθρώπου σε κοινωνικό και βιολογικό, τα αναπάντητα μεταφυσικά ερωτήματα κι οι αποικιοκρατικές τάσεις διεθνώς.

Istratii, Romina (2019) Applying a decolonial lens to research structures, practices and norms in higher education: What does it mean and where to next?.

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) H «πολιτικά ορθή θρησκεία» ως όχημα επιστημολογικής αποικιοκρατίας και πολιτισμικής υπονόμευσης: Η περίπτωση της Ελλάδας και των φακέλων του μαθητή για το Ορθόδοξο μάθημα.

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

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


Istratii, Romina and Hasan, Khalid (2019) 'Ethical Reflexivity and Research Governance: Navigating the Tensions (Online Module)'.


This list was last generated on Monday, 10th August 2020, 04:09 Europe/London.