CFEE JOINT SEMINAR: Researching spousal abuse perceptions and attitudes among Orthodox Täwahәdo believers and clergy in Aksum

CFEE Joint Seminar on Contemporary Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa (2017-2018)

With the Department of Sociology, Addis Ababa University

1st SessionResearching spousal abuse perceptions and attitudes among Orthodox Täwahәdo believers and clergy in Aksum

by Romina Istratii (PhD Candidate, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 3.30 – 5 pm

Venue: Berhanou Abebe library, in CFEE new office (details below)

Spousal abuse attitudes among Orthodox Täwahәdo believers in Aksum, Tigray

by Romina Istratii  

This CFEE seminar will present Ms Romina Istratii’s recently completed PhD fieldwork among the Orthodox Täwahәdo community of Aksum, Tigray, which focused on exploring local men’s, women’s and clergy’s perceptions and understandings of spousal abuse in juxtaposition to a) a theologically-informed analysis of Church teachings concerning the metaphysics of gender, marriage and spousal abuse, and b) an analysis of the local gender normative framework.
The objective of this interdisciplinary project has been to contextualise spousal abuse within the local religious cosmology, addressing lacunae in the domestic violence scholarship from Ethiopia which has been primarily quantitative and has focused on identifying scope and women’s (only) experiences of violence, without contextualising these in a thorough description of local gender normative frameworks and wider religious belief systems. This research has been motivated by the aim to identify mechanisms and opportunities for changing attitudes and norms that are conducive to the perpetuation of spousal abuse in this society, and especially the relevance and feasibility of theology-informed and clergy-centred solutions. The seminar will present an overview of the project by contextualising it in the relevant literatures and presenting the rationale for its epistemological and methodological innovations. As the analysis of collected data is currently on-going, the seminar will discuss the fieldwork component of the study, especially in view of ethical and safety concerns that arise when domestic violence research is undertaken in a foreign culture among the ordinary population and engages with both men and women simultaneously. While early to suggest any conclusions, some research findings will be delineated to draw implications for pathways for change in the local community.

The speaker
Ms Istratii’s PhD research is being conducted at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She has previously completed gender and development research in a number of African countries under a prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, and has worked as researcher and consultant in the sector of development for more than seven years. As a gender and development practitioner working in the African region, Ms Istratii found that local epistemological and knowledge systems were often ignored in the predominantly secular mainstream frameworks of analysis and methodologies for gender and development. Her aim has been to attune gender and development theory and practice to non-western and non-secular epistemologies by making research more participatory and, therefore, more attuned to the articulations and worldviews of local populations.

Come to the CFEE
The French Centre for Ethiopian Studies is located in Addis Ababa, Arada sub city, Kebele 11 /12, house n° 1907, in the neighbourhood called JanMeda, between Menelik Hospital and Sidist Kilo.
By taxi, from Menelik Hospital in the direction of Sidist Kilo, drive some 200 meters (pass the two police stations on your left), then find on your right a house whose door, fence and razor wires are painted in bright yellow. This is the place.


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