Veera Ojala profile picture
Doctoral Researcher, Degree Programme in Digital Culture, Landscape and Cultural Heritage

Areas of expertise

Industrial heritage
toxic heritage
post-industrial landscapes
the cultural heritage of the Anthropocene
nuclear cultural heritage
visual research methodologies
affectivity, senses, and embodiment as practises of heritage


I graduated with a master's degree in social sciences from the Free University of Berlin (Freie Universität Berlin) in 2020. My master's thesis dealt with the imaginary and visual production of cultural heritage in the Chornobyl exclusion zone from the point of view of visitors to the area. I used visual ethnographic methods in my research, which was supported by the Mohyla Academy in Kyiv.

In my ongoing dissertation research, I examine the production of the nuclear cultural heritage of the CEZ as captured in the qualitative interviews and photographs of the research participants and visitors to the zone. When taking into consideration the visual meaning-making of the visitors to the Chornobyl nuclear accident site, the research seeks to advance knowledge on the cultural construction of radioactive landscapes and, with the assistance of visual methods, produce information about the meaning of participatory culture's memory work as an agent that co-creates collective representations of the contaminated area.

My research adopts a processual view of cultural heritage and a conceptual and methodological framework that is suitable for analysing nuclear cultural heritage from a critical, polyphonic, and interactive perspective. In addition, the research reflects on the importance of polluted and post-industrial landscapes from the perspective of the cultural and critical heritage of the Anthropocene. The analysis of visitors’ visual engagements with the zone’s heritage artefacts reveals visitors’ evolving attitudes and pictorial interests in the context of participatory digital visual culture. This study provides insights into digital and participatory culture as agents that change the way radioactive heritage is viewed, perceived, and experienced.

Currently, I am investigating with a longitudinal approach how the visual representations of the zone have evolved in a ten-year time frame.

I am working with the assistance of a grant awarded by the Satakunta Fund of The Finnish Cultural Fund from December 2022 to May 2023.
My research was supported by a grant awarded by the Satakunta Fund of the Finnish Cultural Fund from October 2022 to May 2023.
I participated in the Piippumuistoja project as a quest researcher from August 2023 to September 2023.
I worked as a project researcher on the Nuclear Waste Disposal and Societal Memory Project from December 2022 to January 2023.


Responsible teacher for the course "Narratives and Representations of Industrial Heritage: Alternative Approaches to the Industrial Past",  September–December 2023 (University of Turku)

Lecture on the "Introduction to Digital Humanities" course in May 2023 (University of Oulu)

Lecture on the "Human and Nature Relationship as Part of the Cultural Heritage" course in November 2022 (University of Turku)

Lecture as part of the "Dark Cultural Heritage Course" in February 2022 (University of Turku)

Lecture in the seminar series of the Mohyla Academy in Kyiv: 35 years since Chornobyl in May 2021


In my dissertation, I research the production of nuclear cultural heritage in the Chornobyl exclusion zone from the point of view of visitors to the area. In my research, I focus particularly on the embodied and sensory production of toxic heritage, and how these experiences turn into photographs and visual representations of nuclear heritage.


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