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
  • Publications


Romina Istratii
Research Office

Research Funding Officer

Research and Enterprise Directorate

Research Funding Officer

Miss Romina Istratii
Email address:
020 7898 5147
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
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:
Internal Supervisors


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.




  • “Sustainable Development through Local Knowledge: Understanding Conjugal Violence in Rural Aksum, Ethiopia and the Role of the Orthodox Täwahәdo Church and Clergy in Addressing the Problem.” Presented at AHRC-funded Research Network ‘Keeping Faith in 2030: Religions and the Sustainable Development Goals.” Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 20-21 September 2018.
  • “The PhD Fieldwork Experience: Methodological, Ethical and Personal Challenges.” Presented at MPhil Seminar for first-year PhD students, Department of Religions and Philosophies, SOAS University. London, UK. 8 Feb 2018.
  • “How to Complete the First Year of the PhD Research Programme.” Presented at MPhil Seminar for first-year PhD students, Department of Religions and Philosophies, SOAS University. London, UK. 31 Oct 2017.
  • “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 Center 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 French Centre of Ethiopian Studies (CFEE) and the Sociology Department at Addis Ababa University (AAU). Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 20 Sep 2017.
  • “Gender and Development, Oriental Orthodox Christianity and Domestic Violence.” Presented at ‘Religions and Development: Redrawing a Research Agenda’ workshop, organized by SOAS and DSA (Development Studies Association). UK, London. 29 April 2016.


  • “Decolonisation in Praxis.” Co-organised the first joint Symposium by the Research Students’ Association and The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research. SOAS, University of London, 7 June 2018.
  • “Mission of Love: Visiting the Christian and Muslim Communities of Syria.” Supported the conference by the Centre of World Christianities. SOAS, University of London, 1 June 2018.
  • The Gingko Fellowship Retreat for Al-Azhar and British scholars of Religions. Carberry Tower, Edinburgh, 23-26 Apr 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 hosted by Centre of World Christianities. SOAS. UK, London, 22-23 April 2016.



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


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