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Knowledge-exchange and public engagement activities comprise the project’s fundamental tool for building bridges – not only between secular and religious stakeholders, who still lack a common platform for mutual understanding and substantive collaboration, but also between different disciplines, theoretical paradigms and sectors in order to achieve a more multi-dimensional understanding of the problem of domestic violence in religious contexts.
The project team engages with different stakeholders in the three project countries in ways appropriate to each group, adapting to their language, understandings and needs, and helping each side to enlarge their horizons in ways that can promote cross-sectoral learning and collaboration.
Knowledge-exchange activities and outputs include the establishment of new multi-stakeholder communication platforms, the delivery of webinars with specialists sharing their work and experience, the organisation of international conferences that bring together researchers and practitioners from around the world, and other initiatives. Previous activities and outputs are listed below.
3 May 2023
Dr Romina Istratii was invited to speak at the British Academy Early Career Research Networks Midlands conference on ‘Diversity and Inclusion (Decolonising Epistemologies, Critical Theories and Research Methods)’. Dr Istratii presented on decolonising research practices and norms in higher education, drawing insights from three projects she has been directly involved in, including the SOAS Decolonising Research Initiative, Decolonial Subversions, and Project dldl/ድልድል.
The presentation centred on the importance of positioning oneself in relation to global histories of colonialism and world system inequalities, bridging research with the lived experiences of communities, cultivating researcher self-awareness and reflexivity, and promoting collaborative projects that are mutually enriching, dialogical and foster local/regional leadership in research and societal development programming. Dr Istratii stressed that everyone comprising this system – researcher, funder, donor, Northern or Southern actor – has a role to play in decolonising research and that requires reflecting on one’s context, limitations and possibilities.
2 May 2023
Dr Romina Istratii presented the work of project dldl/ድልድል in Ethiopia and the UK at the quarterly meeting of the Christian Network to End Domestic Abuse (CNEDA) hosted at the UK charity Restored.
Among other things, Dr Istratii discussed the importance of approaching the work of Church Fathers and Mothers venerated across different Christian traditions within the linguistic, cosmological, theological and exegetical framework in which they spoke to avoid superimposing interpretations of their work not shared historically by real communities. This led to a discussion about the work of St John Chrysostom, western feminist interpretations of his homiletic works and Dr Istratii’s critical proposition to move beyond ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’ so as to realise the resourcefulness that these homilies can have in promoting gender equality and responding to domestic violence and abuse.
23 February 2023
Dr Romina Istratii was invited by JLI CEO to present to the JLI Leadership Council Meeting of 23 February 2023. Dr Istratii presented on the innovative approach of the project in engaging religious beliefs and theology to strengthen domestic violence responses in religious societies. Dr Istratii presented on the activities of the project in its first two years of existence, the decolonial and transboundary approach taken by the project, the integration of psychological parameters in the project’s activities, and its innovative model of joint collaborations and co-production with Ethiopian and UK-based partners. The presentation was received with invariably positive feedback by the Leadership Council members, followed by an invitation by the CEO for Dr Istratii’s further involvement in the Council’s activities.
18 January 2023
Dr Romina Istratii presented on the topic of decolonising research at the organised by UK’s Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA). The presentation discussed the importance of applying a decolonial lens to research practices and norms, problematising the centrality of positionality in such efforts. It also described current approaches within and beyond the Higher Education sector to make research processes and practices more reflexive of colonial legacies and continuing inequalities, build more genuinely collaborative partnerships with partners in the wider Global South and promote linguistic and cultural diversity within academic knowledge production. Dr Istratii placed extensive attention also on open access publishing movements and discussed how open access science and publishing can be conducive to and limiting in these efforts.
28-29 November 2022
On 28-29 November 2022, Dr Romina Istratii attended the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) Ministerial conference in London, UK. The conference brought together the international community to promote active responses to sexual violence in conflict, taking a survivor-informed and survivor-centred approach. Dr Istratii was invited to attend as member of the Team of Experts of the PSVI under the UK’s Civilian Stabilisation Group (CSG), which is a body of skilled individuals who are willing and able to deploy to fragile and conflict affected states to assist the UK Government in addressing instability. Alongside Dr Istratii, more than 40 country representatives attended the 2-day conference in London, and over 50 countries signed a UK-led declaration to end sexual violence in conflict.
24 November 2022
27 September 2022
On Tuesday, Dr Romina Istratii and Mr Tesfaye Gonite presented at the webinar ‘Working with Men and Boys to Prevent and Respond to GBV in Humanitarian Settings: Learnings and Opportunities’ organised by GBV AoR Ethiopia and IOM. Dr Istratii and Mr Gonite presented on a jointly implemented research project on domestic violence in Ethiopia’s Amhara region that engaged men to explore religio-cultural deterrence mechanisms to intimate partner abuse in the male population. Dr Istratii first discussed the research that motivated this project and described its approach in the form of an innovative interactive survey that employed visual methods to incite the participants’ reactions to different types of intimate partner abuse and to explore their rationalisations and possible deterrence mechanisms. Mr Gonite, one of the researchers on the ground, then presented on the fieldwork experience, including the reactions of the male participants to the visual research and intervention method, key attitudes around domestic abuse and violence, and deterrence mechanisms that the men identified in their discussions. Dr Istratii concluded with suggestions on how the approach could be implemented in emergency contexts.
21 July 2022
Dr Istratii was invited to present as part of the series Academic Encounters organised by Dr Layachi Habbouch at the Abdelmalek Essaadi University in Tetouan, Morocco. The Academic Encounters Series gathers audiences from Morocco, Gibraltar, Great Britain, the Arab and the Muslim world, the United States and Canada to explore decolonial scholarship in Africa. The series is an ambitious project that seeks to introduce Moroccan scholars, early-career researchers, and BA, MA and PhD students to different fields of research and diverse areas of scholarship across the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and to build cross-sectoral and cross-cultural collaborations. The title of Dr Istratii’s talk was ‘Decolonizing Religions and Development Theory and Practice : Why is it Needed and How Can it be Achieved?’ (In Arabic: تفكيك الرؤية الكولونيالية للأديان ونظرية وممارسة التنمية : لماذا الحاجة إلى ذلك وكيف يمكن تحقيقه؟). Dr Layachi introduced Dr Istratii in both English and Arabic and both languages were used during the session. The presentation was followed by a discussion session and lasted two and a half hours.
28 June 2022
On Tuesday, Dr Romina Istratii and Dr Zinawork Assefa presented at the ‘East and Southern Africa Regional Symposium on Gender Transformative Symposium to engaging Men and Boys in GBV Prevention and Response in Humanitarian Settings’ organised by numerous UN agencies and partners. Dr Istratii and Dr Zinawork presented on a jointly implemented research project on domestic violence in Ethiopia’s Amhara region that engaged men to explore religio-cultural deterrence mechanisms to intimate partner abuse in the male population. Dr Istratii first discussed the research that motivated this project and described its approach in the form of an innovative interactive survey that employed visual methods to incite the participants’ reactions to different types of intimate partner abuse and to explore their rationalisations and possible deterrence mechanisms. Dr Assefa, as the research lead of this project at the partner organisation EMIRTA then presented on the fieldwork experience and the reactions of the male participants to the visual methods. Dr Istratii concluded with suggestions on how the approach could be implemented in emergency contexts.
23 June 2022
Following a generous invitation by Ms Amma Anane-Agyei, who is African Families Service Co-ordinator at the African Families Service, Children and Culture Directorate, London Borough Tower Hamlets, Dr Romina Istratii made a presentation of her research on domestic violence to the African Families Service Link Workers’ Forum. The presentation was titled ‘Exploring the relationship between conjugal abuse, parenting and childhood trauma and the role of faith as a potential deterrent: Ethnographic insights from research in Ethiopia’ and presented aspects of Dr Istratii’s anthropological research with Ethiopian communities in Ethiopia and the UK between 2016-2017. In this presentation, Dr Istratii cautiously suggested some connections with psychological theories of domestic violence and her observations in the field. She drew primarily from theories of intergenerational violence, attachment theory and personality disorder studies. Dr Istratii suggested these connections to stress the need for integrated responses to domestic violence, but did not in any way attempt to provide a psychological diagnosis of the problem. The slides should be approached as suggestive, reflective and tentative only.
13 January 2022
On Thursday, Dr Romina Istratii presented to the JLI Religions, Humanitarianism, and Development Research Reading Group the work of project dldl/ድልድል under the title ‘Working with religious communities to address domestic violence in peace and war-time: Insights from project dldl/ድልድል in Ethiopia.’ Dr Istratii was joined by Mr Henok Hailu Ayele, who supports the project as trainer in workshops that seek to build the preparedness of Ethiopian Orthodox clergy to respond to domestic violence. The presentation discussed how project dldl/ድልድል works to build integrated approaches to domestic violence that bridge religious and psychological parameters together, and discussed how it has made an effort in the last year to adapt this approach to conflict-affected contexts so as to inform the humanitarian response in Tigray. The presentation raised very positive responses by academics and practitioners working in areas of faith, domestic violence and humanitarian responses. Members suggested the need for scaling our the project’s work and maximising its impact by applying its model to the wider non-governmental faith and domestic violence sector.
16 December 2021
In 2021, the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) called for participants with ongoing research projects to join a series of three online workshops exploring research methods, uncertainty and Covid-19. The Centre sought to run a short series of three workshops to explore in-depth how researchers engage with the uncertainty of Covid-19, manage methodological contingencies, adapt and innovate over time, probing the temporal, spatial and relational dimensions of researching in pandemic/pandemic legacy conditions. The Principal Investigator, Dr Romina Istratii, and part-time project manager, Ms Haben Hill, submitted an expression of interest that presented the project’s challenges with uncertainty (pandemic and war-related) and were invited to participate in the first workshop, which was held in December 2021. The workshop involved researchers from different parts of the UK, some based internationally, and comprised of numerous discussion and brainstorming sessions to explore questions around research and uncertainty. The project team shared its experiences and insights, informing the direction of the conversations. It is anticipated that the workshops will result in a special issue targeted at the wider research community with the potential to inform current and future approaches to managing uncertainty and adapting to change in funded research projects.
28 October 2021
The sixth webinar delivered by project dldl/ድልድል explored how domestic violence interventions can be assessed cross-culturally, with a special focus on interventions designed to be sensitive to religious traditions, faith and spirituality. The webinar asked: Are current methods adequate to capture the complex mechanisms by which faith-based domestic violence interventions impact on victims/survivors and perpetrators, congregations or communities? How should evaluation mechanisms be designed when programmes aim to be religio-culturally sensitive and what should be the standards for measuring effectiveness, if there should be a common standard in the first place?
The panel combined researchers and practitioners from different disciplines and sectors experienced in the design, implementation and/or evaluation of domestic violence research and interventions working with diverse communities and in diverse cultural contexts. The speakers reflected on and responded to the questions guiding the webinar to achieve knowledge exchange and to farther cross-sectoral and cross-disciplinary learning.
23-24 September 2021
Following a competitive application process, project dldl/ድልድል has selected six female and male researchers to co-produce and conduct field research on domestic violence in Eritrea engaging diverse religio-cultural contexts and communities. The recruitment was followed by a visit of the project’s Eritrea Coordinator, Ms Mebrak Ghebreweldi, to Eritrea to meet with the research team, obtain further approvals and support for the project and establish the Eritrean Advisory Board to guide the direction of the project in the country for maximum and relevant impact. The trip was combined with a two-day training on research ethics and safeguarding in domestic violence, data management, intellectual property and publishing delivered virtually by Dr Romina Istratii, Lead of the project, from Addis Ababa Ethiopia where she is based. The training was successfully completed despite electivity cuts and Internet connection challenges faced by both sides during the two days. During the training, Dr Istratii and the researchers discussed the research objectives and approach in Eritrea and explored how to proceed with the research in a culture-sensitive and inclusive manner, prioritising the safety of potential victims of domestic violence throughout the process.
15 September 2021
Dr Romina Istratii provided a half-day training to four EMIRTA researchers, including the organisation’s Director and General Manager, ahead of starting new collaborative research on domestic violence in Amhara region, Ethiopia. EMIRTA are a newly-established research, training and development centre that seeks to promote robust research standards and approaches in the country, while showing sensitivity to religious and cultural parameters and fostering approaches that consider resourcefully local knowledge systems in addressing societal issues in evidence-based ways. EMIRTA was selected to support project dldl/ድልድልresearch with the male population in the countryside of North Shoa that will seek to understand better male perspectives on domestic violence, rationalisations around domestic violence and the influence and potential of religious beliefs and morality to deter abusive behaviour in conjugal relationships. This training was the first in a planned series covering research ethics, domestic violence safeguarding and safety standards, and data management laws and regulations.
25 August 2021
Fr Evangelos Thiani, a priest of the African Orthodox Church of Kenya recently visited Addis Ababa for a training conference. The occasion provided Dr Romina Istratii and Fr Thiani, who had previously collaborated on a special issue on Orthodox missions in Africa, to make connections with colleagues in the Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahәdo Church. Dr Istratii facilitated a meeting between Fr Thiani and Mr Girma Batu, an instructor and former academic vice dean of the Holy Trinity Theological College in Addis Ababa, during which the three discussed their churches’ respective approaches to diaconia and community engagement, responses to and teaching on contemporary issues – such as domestic violence and other sensitive issues – and the potential for sharing knowledge and experience through joint teaching programmes and co-production of research papers. The meeting raised the need for African Orthodox Churches to work together more closely, share experience and accessible information about their theological traditions (raising the need for translation) and build more mutual understanding.
17 June 2021
The fifth webinar organised by project dldl/ድልድል sought to explore past and current approaches of involving clergy in domestic violence interventions and to examine what is known about the effectiveness of clergy-centred interventions. The webinar responded to extensive evidence on the central role that clergy play in the mediation of family problems and in victim and perpetrator support and the differential effects of their mediation. It aimed to add to this scholarship by means of ethnographic and practical insights by specialised researchers and practitioners who work directly with clergy and theological traditions to address domestic violence in their respective communities.
The panel included speakers from Ethiopia and the UK working with diverse religious communities, including Christian Orthodox and Roman Catholic clergy, with the aim of achieving knowledge exchange across different contexts, to share lessons and to identify good practices and challenges from around the world.
21 May 2021
This impromptu webinar co-organised by project dldl/ድልድል and the Iyesus Moa Institute of Research, Training and Development (EMIRTA/ እምርታ) in Ethiopia aimed to explore in a collegiate manner the relevance and value of decolonisation movements and decolonial reflexivity in the context of Ethiopian scientific knowledge production, especially as relevant to societal development. It sought to draw attention to the neglect of indigenous knowledge in many of the disciplines engaged by project dldl/ድልድል, such as gender studies, public health and development studies, and to draw implications for how the project could achieve meaningful impact for real communities in Ethiopia by engaging substantively with their own systems of knowledge and understandings. The panelists included current members of EMIRTA with extensive experience in religious, public health, gender-related and other development research and work in the country.
13 May 2021
The third webinar organised by project dldl/ድልድል examined how Christian Orthodox religious training institutions address the topic of domestic violence and instruct on it and what methodologies they employ to equip their students and future clergies or theologians with theological knowledge and pastoral preparedness to respond to difficult questions and family situations, including domestic abuse.
The speakers included colleagues that project dldl/ድልድል closely collaborates with in Ethiopia and Eritrea as well as specialists from other parts of the world to capture the diversity in approaches and understandings currently and to achieve knowledge exchange that can improve the ways in which seminary students and future clergies are provided with training and preparation to address difficult topics and issues around marriage in their specific contexts. The second part of the webinar discussed how the specific homilies of St John Chrysostom on marriage and related topics can become resourceful for preparing clergy and theologians to teach about marriage and against any form of domestic violence.
29 April 2021
Insights from the Outside is a series of deep conversations with thought leaders, provocateurs and leading practitioners on a diverse range of subjects related to knowledge work and organizational learning that seeks to provide GIZ staff with new directions in their work and to inform organisational strategic vision. The series is hosted by the Knowledge and Learning Alliance, a network that seeks to bring together GIZ staff involved in knowledge management, organisational learning, digitalisation and related subjects. Dr Istratii was invited to give the Insight from Outside Talk on 29 April 2021 in recognition of her being “a key voice to listen to and learn from when seeking to build knowledge systems that include a diversity of views and take power asymmetries into account.” Dr Istratii discussed the questions “Whose knowledge counts in international development? Whose expertise gets heard and acted upon? And how a knowledge and learning approach seriously grapple with issues of power, voice and equality?”, which were posed by the organiser. In her presentation Dr Istratii applied insights from working on decolonising international development theory and practice to the wider international development sector, acknowledging existing hierarchies, restrictions faced due to donor conditions and organisational cultures.
25 February 2021
The second webinar organised by project dldl/ድልድል aimed to inform current humanitarian efforts to support forcefully displaced populations in Tigray, and more widely, to benefit practitioners working in other conflict and displacement contexts. The presentations called attention to the fact that humanitarian responses to SGBV must consider how political violence intersects with structural, normative and psychological parameters and seek to support affected groups in ways that can prevent further abuse in domestic and communal life post displacement.
The webinar included presentations by Dr Romina Istratii on a recent literature review conducted on the relationship between war violence and domestic violence to inform responses in Tigray in ways that consider the religio-cultural framework of Tigrayan society. The second presentation was given by Sandra Pertek, who drew from interviews with 23 Levantine and 15 Sub-Saharan forced migrant survivors of war and SGBV residing in Turkey and Tunisia to evidence how religious factors intersected with multiple inequalities and vulnerabilities shaping survivors’ experiences.
10 January 2021
The project team has set up a dedicated JISCMAIL list under the name DV-GENDER-FAITH (Promoting Integrated Approaches to Domestic Violence in Faith Communities).
The list is intended for domestic violence practitioners, researchers and religious stakeholders to share new research, training materials and experiences in order to build beneficial practices together and to promote better-integrated approaches to addressing domestic violence in religious communities. The list followed after the opening webinar of the project “Addressing domestic violence in religious communities: Taking stock of lessons and approaches in the era of decolonising knowledge.”
The list is open to everyone who would like to join and become part of the conversation. Subscribers will also be able to stay up to date with the project’s relevant outputs. The list can be accessed at the link below.
27 November 2020
The webinar brought together researchers and practitioners from around the world to examine current approaches to domestic violence in religious communities and to identify positive directions for the future. It examined past and current approaches with reflexivity to the limitation of western understandings of ‘religion’, and with the aim of contributing to a diversification of domestic violence understandings and approaches by promoting more Southern-Northern knowledge exchange.
The webinar was hosted by Dr Romina Istratii and included presentations by Professor Nancy Nason-Clark (RAVE Project), Ms Mandy Marshall (Anglican Communion Office), Ms Huda Jawad (Standing Together) and Mahmood Afifi (Religious Studies, Lancaster University).