Joana Rafael (b.1979) is an architect, researcher, lecturer and ghostwriter, currently based in Porto, Portugal, working between architecture, (issues of) ecology and visual culture. She holds a PhD (2017) in Visual Cultures and an MRes (2009) in Research Architecture from Goldsmiths, University of London, an MA (2008) from the Metropolis Graduate Programme in Architecture and Urban Culture, run by the Centre for Contemporary Culture, Barcelona and a degree (2002) in Architecture from the University of Minho, Guimarães. Joana teaches Contextual Studies and Contemporary Culture -related courses, and is a member of ID+ (Research Institute for Design, Media and Culture) and CEGOT (Center for Studies in Geography and Spatial Planning). Joana is also a certified sustainable agriculture and biological farming practitioner.
The Nuclear in The Urals
Held / < to be published > in portuguese as O Nuclear nas Urais
at XXXIATNEUXX, Porto, Portugal
The Nuclear in The Urals examines a place ravaged by deadly emissions from Soviet strategic defence initiatives facilities for reprocessing nuclear missile technology and has itself been designated and managed according to a series of conversions, from natural refuge to military headquarters, then from military dumping ground to nature reserve and touristic destination. These conversions entail particular constructions of the place and are characterized by a preoccupation with the disguising and secrecy of the site, so as to maintain it within inviolable limits. These are constructions imposing protected zones reliant on (local) territorial boundaries to confine and secure nuclear threats in a particular place. However, such constructions provide excuses for extreme crackdowns on civil liberties, and are highly contested as such. This paper also highlights ever-greater concerns regarding the interconnectedness of all life forms, and the inter-linkage between a staggering array of threats and infrastructures that are highly vulnerable to disasters, putting people who are thought to be safe at risk.