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Conversational interviews with hybrids.

We tread themes of sexuality, technology, society and the self through the podcast ether.

Conversational interviews with hybrids. We tread themes of sexuality, technology, and the self through the podcast ether.

In conversation with Letizia Chiappini, a founding member of the Slutty Urbanism Collective. Letizia is an Urban Sociologist living, learning and teaching out of Amsterdam: Creative Business at the University of Applied Sciences. Here we’re talking platforms and platformization. 

Letizia and the Slutty Urbanism Collective presented their three-act-play, Glitches From The Pandemic, and discussed The Future is Public: Activism in The Age of Platform Capital as part of the 2021 Venice Biennale of Architecture.

#platform #people #slutty #urbanism #airbnb #amsterdam #tinder #pandemic #city #thinking #life #academic #berlin #choices #subjectification #academia #pictures

“Well, we are slutty because we know that some choices that we make in our everyday life are part of bargaining and negotiation between our values and the market.”

Click here for the full forty minutes of audio on Spotify

Let’s face it our cities are fucked 

Media 00:00

It's amazing that so many people ascribe magical properties to these words. You know, like, these four-letter words can really you know, do something bad to you. And everybody says it.

Media 00:11

Don't you think, in a way, that it takes... it takes a lively sense of guilt to make sin, fun, or enjoyable? That society's discovered a great new way to make life enjoyable by giving you a sense of guilt about everything, and then everything is potentially interesting? Exotic.

Media  00:29

Yeah, no shit. I'll take care of this at once. Hey chill out dude.

Liv Phoinix  00:36

This one's going to be about re articulation and re signification.

Media  00:40

Shame, shame, shame. Why does it feel like you're whipping me? Because your soul got tangled in a dirty slut soul! Grandpa do something! Or I I will tweet and you will be cancelled.

Letizia Chiappini  00:54

Let's face it, our cities our fucked.

Liv Phoinix  00:59

Previously on the show, in episode three, we talked data. Data pushed to imagine a not- -so-distant future. Data not as property, but as relationship. Now to get data, you'd do well having a platform to collect it. And humans today, we're by and large pretty promiscuous in how we use platforms - and how we get them to work for us. In this episode, I'm talking platforms with urban sociologist Letizia Chiappini, a founding member of the Slutty Urbanism Collective. And in getting to the origins of the Slutty Urbanism Collective we also got into some real talk about our disenchantment with academia as a platform itself. In hindsight, I realise that subjectification and commodification of desire are cornerstones of just about everything we put ourselves in and through. This conversation was recorded in the summer of 2021 over a shoddy zoom connection. It's part one of two. So let's get straight to it.

Letizia Chiappini  02:03

Oh, I'm excited!

Liv Phoinix  02:06

I just had my first vaccine yesterday, earlier than I thought I would.

Letizia Chiappini  02:10

Oh, how do you feel?

Liv Phoinix  02:11

A little tired. My arm hurts.

Letizia Chiappini  02:14

Uh huh. What did you get?

Liv Phoinix 02:16

I got the biontech.

Letizia Chiappini   02:17

It's one shot?

Liv Phoinix  02:18

One shot, but then I have another one in one month.

Letizia Chiappini  02:22

Okay, then it's probably what I'm gonna do on Saturday. So good to know. I will stay super chill on Sunday then.

Liv Phoinix  02:33

Apparently, in the US and in the UK, trying to get people to get vaccinated, they're really hyping up the online dating platforms, dating apps, as a way to like get people to really want to get vaccinated. Like you know, you can get a badge when you're vaccinated.

Media  02:49

Dating apps have partnered with the British government to allow users to display badges on their profile to show: they've had the jab.

Media  02:59

Today, dating sites like Bumble, Tinder, hinge, match, Ok Cupid, blk, chispa, Plenty of Fish and Badoo are announcing a series of features to encourage vaccinations and help people meet people who have that universally attractive quality. They've been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Letizia Chiappini  03:22

That's a very good example of how the platform's even subbjectify our choice.

Liv Phoinix  03:29

Exactly. Yeah. So it's interesting that the governments team up with these dating apps/platforms as a way to motivate people. Like you know, sex and carnal activity, this will get people to want people to want to do.

Letizia Chiappini  03:41

Yeah! Exactly! It's more, it's stronger than the scientific opinion and it's becoming a bit dogmatic so that you're like, "oh, the only way to convince people is to say that they can Tinder again".

Liv Phoinix  03:55

Or at least, like the most effective way because it's like, nobody wants to listen to statistics. And then you've got like the anti vaxxers and the QAanon people. I don't know if that's very big in Amsterdam, but in Berlin, for sure. There's a lot of people who are very sceptic towards the vaccine. And you know, I do think it's a choice that everyone should make for themselves. But here there's a lot of people who are very, not into it at all, but it's also such a hedonistic city. I wonder how it's gonna go here.

Letizia Chiappini  04:20

In Amsterdam it was a bit different at the beginning because there were a bit of protests or manifestations, "No Vax" but then throughout the thing, like over the past two months, it changed a bit. So there are like a high percentage of people that are getting the vaccine and also the numbers are dropping. But I think that's also due to the fact that there are more expats in Amsterdam than real amsterdammers whereas maybe Berlin is still, the composition of the population is still, a bit more German I would say. But I think like Amsterdam is getting much better because here the promise is the festivals and parties. Telling them that if they behave they can party again in September.

Liv Phoinix  05:09

That's motivation.

Letizia Chiappini  05:11

Yes yes yes. And well, that's interesting because I was watching again the European Cup, although I'm not into football, and I noticed that all the sponsors are platforms. Like Tiktok. So it was funny when I was a kid, there was PlayStation, so console, then they change it to ICT like Vodafone or Verizon and now it's Tick Tock or So all the platforms are meeting and penetrating whatever is the European Cup.

Liv Phoinix  05:47

it's so it's so interesting, I mean, PlayStation was also a business and of course

Letizia Chiappini  05:52

the ICT companies

Liv Phoinix  05:55

yeah, the ICTs are also businesses. And Pepsi is also a business. But it is still interesting that it's switches really much into the organisational logics of these digital platforms that are sponsoring us now.

Letizia Chiappini  06:07

Yeah, yeah, yeah! Yeah, that was visible and interesting to observe. Well, we are talking already about platforms so...

Liv Phoinix  06:18

So yeah, thanks for sending me your play. I read through it immediately.

Liv Phoinix  06:22

The play, Glitches From the Pandemic was part of the Austrian pavilion at the Venice Biennale d'Architectura this year.

Letizia Chiappini  06:30

We didn't say who wrote what so it was a bit of a guess, between our collective.

Liv Phoinix  06:38

Yeah, you're three people in your collective, right?

Letizia Chiappini  06:41

Yes, composed by three academic refugees.

Liv Phoinix  06:45

What's an academic refugee?

Letizia Chiappini  06:47

It's a person that was part, as a body/as an actor of a community or some sort of territorial boundary and all of a sudden this community is becoming toxic, and for this person to escape, but still remaining, an academic. From a bed rock regime of publication and neoliberal logic.

Liv Phoinix  07:10

Do you want to talk about that?

Letizia Chiappini  07:12

Yeah, it might be interesting.

Liv Phoinix  07:14

Being an academic refugee, was that the drive to start Slutty Urbanism?

Letizia Chiappini  07:21

Well Slutty Urbanism was starting with this disenchantment or critique about the language, about the jargon, and the neoliberal version of academia nowadays. So during my PhD, indeed, I was thinking if I am part of this community, what is my value or my contribution. But then you see the only contribution is to publish scientific papers in journals that are also very monopolistic. You need to escape, you need to find your voice, and your exit also. Of course, you do your research, but there was an article recently on the Guardian saying that if you like academia, you don't like research.

Letizia Chiappini  08:13

Well, I was a bit naive at the beginning, when it started my PhD. I was 28. And of course, you come from, from my perspective, you come from a master or something that you really choose, and you really want to pursue. And then you start a PhD, but then throughout this journey, and this rite de passage, then you change your positionality you become critical. If you are a critical person, then you might also think, what are the new directions? Or if they're an exit in this world? So yeah, I am at this stage now that I still consider myself an academic because I like to do research, but I'm not sure if my research, my way, my modus operandi, is appreciated.

Liv Phoinix  09:09

Yeah, I have my own experience with that too. It was quite an interesting wake up call, because I made a pretty direct transition from masters to PhD level work. And honestly, I think it's probably better if you're going to do it to take a break and have some time in between. But I found it very striking how the hierarchy... how strong that is. Earlier I had studied in Sweden, and I didn't find that hierarchy so strong, but in Germany and in Switzerland, where I had started my PhD, I found it like suffocatingly present. It wasn't so easy at the time. It really wasn't. I've really struggled and had at least six months period of really feeling very out of it, but also being fearful of being out of it. So it was quite a struggle for a while.

Letizia Chiappini  10:10

Yeah, because you've reached the stage in which you think that is, is a pity right to quit. It's like a relationship, you always think that there is something to save. Something to look into from a different perspective. But then if it's too much, what happened to me was also the imposter syndrome. I wasn't sure about my value, if I was enough, for these academic orgies.

Liv Phoinix  10:40

Where did it start for you?

Letizia Chiappini  10:41

I started in Italy, you know, my PhD and, and there the hierarchies are quite visible. But at the same time, because they're visible, you also know how to escape from those hierarchies. Or at least, you know, that there are certain aspects like nepotism or certain behaviours that are visible, and you just, you just don't want to go into that. But in countries where there is what I call, like, a cognitive Eldorado where like, where there are money in university, they're prestigious, especially in the Netherlands, and all of a sudden, you realise that these are still there and are even worse. Because you don't recognise them. And that's dangerous, because you're really trusting. You really think "oh this place is an amazing, healthy environment", but then it became toxic.

Liv Phoinix  11:39

I love that term that you just put there, 'cognitive Eldorado', I also had my cognitive Eldorado and I was the only woman in my team. And I thought that was also quite fascinating. They also wanted to have more women and perhaps to a certain extent I was even some sort of quota filler. But on the other hand, it was also like being the woman in the team, I also felt like it was such a huge difference in approach, and while maybe on some cognitive level that was wished for on their side in hiring me. On the other hand, I was punished if I didn't follow the exact same sort of protocol of how things are done, as the way that they were already being done. So it's like you're hired for your difference. But then you're kind of dismissed, at least in a symbolic way for being different.

Letizia Chiappini  12:32

Yeah, that's part of exactly what I perceive as cognitive. Because indeed, you really think you are valuable. Your original gaze or different cultures also play a role. But then you realise that if you are not behaving in a certain kind of regime or rules or expectations, then you're also not appreciated anymore. But there are also life choices in between right? I have decided to come here and I was enthusiastic and I'm still, I'm STILL, enthusiastic. I'm, just a bit disappointed about what I was expecting. Probably is also the rite de passage, you're like, I didn't quit, I just tried to, to work from the inside. Let's say to level, and to try to bring other kinds of inputs within the university. And also with Slutty Urbanism. But it was not the topic, there was a bit of resistance. Let's say.

Liv Phoinix  13:36

Yeah, working from inside. It's difficult because I've often felt that I can have that positionality as a starting point, but the further I take it, I realise the inside is subsuming me, sucks me in. That things become more about maintaining and defending a position, particularly in this time we're living in when institutional funding is struggling to stay afloat. And then the question becomes, why am I doing this? Whose fantasy am I basing my entire waking life on? Am I just a slave? And if I'm to dig where I stand, where do I stand? With whom do I stand? Maybe I'm just standing on this thin layer over a hollowed-out centre. But you were just saying when you and your collective kind of came out or came forward with your manifesto for Slutty Urbanism that you encountered resistance with that.

Letizia Chiappini  14:46

Yeah. Already the term that we have used is quite problematic sometimes.

Liv Phoinix  14:51

What does slutty mean for you?

Letizia Chiappini  14:53

Well slutty is a provocation. We we use the terms slutty in two ways. One is symbolic, to open up a discussion that is not about 'smart city', or 'best practice' all these words that are so misleading. Or like, when I read figures about happiness. "Who are the happiest countries in the world?" And then I'm like, okay, the indicators you're using, the hype around 'smart city' or 'sharing economy' are... are very dangerous. Therefore using a term like sluttiness, or Slutty Urbanism, maybe it evokes something different.

Letizia Chiappini  15:39

And the resistance was more related to the vulgar part of it.

Liv Phoinix  15:46

It was considered vulgar?

Letizia Chiappini  15:48

Yeah. Very vulgar. And also not needed in academia. They were like, "why do you need another term"? Our positionality is then, well, we are slutty because we know that some choices that we make in our everyday life are part of bargaining and negotiation between our values and the market.

Letizia Chiappini  16:16

Living in a city like Amsterdam, or Berlin, or Milan, of course, you have to be a bit slut-ish in your choice.

Liv Phoinix  16:27

Why is it of course you have to be a bit slut-ish in your choice?

Letizia Chiappini  16:31

Okay, let's say we don't want to be part of the platformization of our life, right? To really be out of platforms, and then lead another kind of life.

Liv Phoinix  16:45

All right side note here. This is classic leftist critique.

Letizia Chiappini  16:51

I'm just scared about who is gonna reappropriate, recapture this value. That's a very Marxist heritage.

Liv Phoinix  16:59

To disempower homogenising forces of the market by not participating in them. And I think it could be generational too. Generation X, millennials, even the boomers to a certain degree, we can have this pretty rigid sense of right and wrong. Involvement, not involving ourselves. Resistance and refusal. In a way, we signal our values, we show other people where we stand based on what and how we choose to consume. Now, when you're already in a given discourse, the subtleties of this, they're not so obvious. But to people who are from outside the discourse, it's worth saying, because it's so obvious, it's so right in front of your face that you don't even see it. It's difficult to have that distance to look at oneself critically. To understand the real motives of why I'm here, why I'm doing this, why I embody these as my choices. Morality is sold to us in so many ways, not just as a commercial product. And it starts really early, looking up to people who are cool, climbing the social ladders, seeking validation among those we admire or those who supported us. Still, I've gotta ask the question, what is 'platform urbanism'? And why would someone choose to be out of it?

Letizia Chiappini  18:35

Okay, Platform Urbanism, as, as a term, as a notion, was coined to say that digital platforms such as Uber, and then Deliveroo, like Amazon, Facebook, they're part of our everyday life. And therefore, how the city is developing now is also through these digital platforms. Talking about Airbnb, and how our also governance, so our political actors, the state apparatus, is involved in the urban development in which platforms are prominent. So this is part of the theoretical discussion around platform urbanism.

Liv Phoinix  19:18

And then you were saying, you know, if we choose that we don't want to be a part of it. We don't want to. What's that about?

Letizia Chiappini  19:25

Well, let's think let's think about our life without any platforms. Of course, we can say I don't use Airbnb, because I don't want to contribute. So I want to boycott Airbnb.

Liv Phoinix  19:37

So what's the deal with Airbnb? Well, in short, Airbnb pushes up the price of rental housing by removing housing from the housing stock. Essentially, the professionalisation of Airbnb is hollowing out cities, making them enclaves just for tourism. Now, some cities have reacted and taken legal measures to stop this from happening. Well, prevent it from further accelerating. Cities including Amsterdam, New York City, Paris, New Orleans, Santa Monica, Reykjavik, Barcelona, and Berlin. As far as I know, Lisbon and London have yet to respond.

Media  20:19

The London Borough of Westminster is particularly hard hit with an estimated 5000 properties taken out of the traditional rental market. It is taking homes away from people who might otherwise be living there on scale. So there are wards in Westminster, where one in 10 properties are permanently in the shortlist sector. That's not good.

Liv Phoinix  20:40

So basically it's up to us as consumers, citizens to make choices for ourselves. To choose whether to contribute or not.

Letizia Chiappini  20:48

But then you're like, no, I don't want to use any social networks. I want to avoid to share my data with Instagram or Facebook. But at the same time, I think the Instagram and for instance, what we are also doing now is on zoom, so, how can we avoid platforms in our life? How can we really detach and disentangle with these new kids on the block? It's a real question. Because we are stuck in platforms. We're stuck in this. So I'm questioning myself, How can I be less slutty in criticising and ultimately using also these platforms?

Liv Phoinix  21:33

Is Tinder also a platform?

Letizia Chiappini  21:36

Yeah, it's definitely a platform. Well, it's interesting because the etymology of platforms is indeed also platform from French. And this plane is just a layer, a plain layer, in which you can hold things, you can pile up things. But it's also, the platform is also where you are when you're waiting for the train, right? So there is an evocation of this etymology on platforms, how we actually use them, what is in there, what kind of piece of object is a platform. So it's also fascinating for me to reflect upon what is indeed a platform? Why is not an app?

Liv Phoinix  22:15

Yeah, what's the distinction? What makes platform platform, and not an app?

Letizia Chiappini  22:21

Well, because they're functions that allows you to geolocalise yourself, to communicate, to post about yourself, to pay. So intrinsically, there are all the elements that we have in our real life. So payment, geolocalization. Localization without geo. Interaction with our friends. Our pictures. And this is very pervasive.

Liv Phoinix  22:46

Absolutely. I mean it's hard to imagine not using any of these. I use car sharing apps quite often. Apps... car sharing platforms. I guess the car sharing one of the biggest one for me but then you know, recently I was thinking "oh look food delivery" I live a little bit outside of like the main city centre in Berlin and then I realised that oh no, they don't deliver here. My partner was a bit disappointed.

Letizia Chiappini  23:12

I believe so. Especially during the pandemic. I was discussing that too and then was like what are we eating?

Liv Phoinix  23:23

Rice and vegetables, rice and vegetables.

Letizia Chiappini  23:25

Rice and vegetables, exactly! And then we realised that of course there was these platforms like either 1000s or Uber Eats that were bringing us delicious Poki bowl,  something that was out of our spectrum of possibility and then we say, well of course, why not, one day is not bad. And then you become lazy because that's what, in a way, the platforms do, they make you lazy, right? So before, like I was cycling much more. When I arrived in Amsterdam four years ago, there was no roaming back then. So I didn't have internet on my phone. I was still super glad and proud of myself that I was not using Uber to go home. During night I was cycling in the rain. And then last year I was like yeah, why not using Uber when I'm tired or lazy? And now to be honest, they are there. I tend to delete them to clean my phone, but then when I need it, they just I, just click and it's similar to Tinder, it's easier to scroll, to swipe, than to go out and talk in a bar.

Liv Phoinix  24:37

I have actually, I think I'm really an anomaly in this, I've never used Tinder. I've held my friends phones and kind of swiped for them. And they're telling me to be really careful with the way I swipe.

Letizia Chiappini  24:50

I super-liked for a long time because I hadn't understood that the gesture of my, my stupid finger was actually creating extra expectations with people. Because if you swipe up, it's a super like and I didn't know that. So I was messing up my tinder. And I deleted it because I was like uh, that's not my thing. I was using it in my routine. So checking my ING app and discovering that I was poor, my bank account, and then using Tinder and then you use Instagram and then your morning routine is like wow, very productive. One hour on your, checking if you're poor, miserable. And then yeah, so I also I also deleted it immediately but I was not really good at it.

Liv Phoinix  25:44

Not good at it, Tinder.

Letizia Chiappini  25:45

Not good at it. Exactly.

Liv Phoinix  25:49

How is anyone good Tinder?

Letizia Chiappini  25:51

I don't know, a friend of mine that like, are actually a close couple, hey met during the pandemic through Tinder and now they bought a house together.

Liv Phoinix  26:02

That's really fast.

Letizia Chiappini  26:04

It's really fast, during the pandemic.

Liv Phoinix  26:07

It's the accelerationism! Full on.

Letizia Chiappini  26:10

Exactly! Exactly. It's it's...I agree so much with you. Acceleration. Because it's not even platformization, it pertains life choices, and big life choices. Like, before I date, and then a buy house. That's why I want desperately to write this piece again, not an academic piece, called Funda Is The New Tinder. I don't know if you have a platform in Berlin to find your house, for both renting or buying. Do you?

Liv Phoinix  26:42

I've never heard of this Funda.

Letizia Chiappini  26:44

Yeah, this is Dutch. But now after Tinder, you're definitely moving in your, in your screen to another platform and say, "Now I'm gonna buy a house", or "I'm going to rent" and it's the same scrolling, it's the same gesture. So you have pictures of your house in which there is not only of course, the aesthetics, but there is the lifestyle. I don't know, their kid's room, or studio. For what we are, I don't know, bohemian doesn't exist anymore. But like, for creative people, you know. And they sell this imaginary of this amazing life in the hip-and-coming neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. And then you've met your partner, and then you just move there, and it's done. And this is through platforms, not in real life. Yeah, the the real estate agent comes into play later. But your first fascination is pictures. Imaginary. Swiping right, left, like.

Liv Phoinix  27:47

Are there people in the photographs?

Letizia Chiappini  27:49

There are objects in the house. So yeah, there are some pictures sometimes when you go to visit, so when you date with their house, then you see real pictures, you see, you know, like all their memories, you also look up in the fridge to see if the fridge works. You just open the washing machine to see if it works. It's crazy. Because before you, it's like a bit Tinder, so before you are interested in the picture and in the description of the house or the person, then you swipe, then you put the 'like', you 'date' with the house. And then there is the big difference that you have to then pay. Or have a mortgage. And then there are pictures of people. Yeah yeah, all their intimate, well their sentimental things are in there.

Liv Phoinix  28:36


Letizia Chiappini  28:37

Yeah. I was really fascinated, but then scared. What are you buying with it? Are you, not purchasing... You're purchasing a lifestyle in Amsterdam, not the concrete of the house.

Liv Phoinix  28:48

Right. You're buying, or like you're getting interested in the reflection of an idea and wanting to see yourself in that idea.

Letizia Chiappini  28:55

Exactly. This is it. Yeah.

Liv Phoinix  28:57

And then who's making these ideas also, like, you know, it's shaping our imaginary.

Letizia Chiappini  29:01

But that's typical. We can also say, just to move a bit about this subjectification that I really like, about No Vax. I don't blame No Vax per se, because if I talk to close friends of, for instance, my mother, they are primary school teachers in Italy. And they have Facebook because they are, let's say boomers, right? So they use Facebook quite a lot. And their subjectifications go through the platform, through fake news, through the feed, to the bubble. But now it's not that popular anymore, the filter bubble. Because indeed, Facebook has also a different kind of algorithm. But still, I'm not an expert about algorithms, I know there are so many. I'm not able to have a discussion about algorithms. What I can say and what I perceive is that older generations are again, subjectified through what they see on their feed page, and therefore they don't get the vaccine, because there is this news about this lady that had thrombosis and it's not even verified. So again, it's really strong how the social media platforms in those cases are shaping our opinion, decision making, our life choices.

Liv Phoinix  30:15

Just be careful, you don't swipe up on your phone. Right?

Letizia Chiappini  30:19

Exactly otherwise it'S 3000K

Liv Phoinix  30:25

Directly from your ING.

Letizia Chiappini  30:26

Exactly! Everything is connected.

Liv Phoinix  30:30

And then if you don't have it there, you go into debt. And then someone will speculate on you're debt.

Letizia Chiappini  30:34

Definitely, it's the next level. Augmented reality. You and your video game. I mean, during the pandemic, I was reading some numbers. In Amsterdam, the value of the house interest goes up to 11% in one year. And then due to the fact that people were not really travelling, right. So they were like, oh, what are we doing here? In our job, amazing creative class, what are we doing? Are we gonna buy a house? And then the answer was yes. And then the prices were going crazy, for this. Funda got so much new users that they expand also their headquarters. So they have a new building. I don't know if Tinder, of course they will have a headquarters somewhere, like Airbnb does. But, for instance, Amsterdam as a city, is very interesting to observe because now... You you know, have you noticed when you purchase something, or maybe not because, you have no, restaurants that bring you food, but there are like, really big companies nowadays in Amsterdam that are managing payment, and they are called. Adyen, Molly Mali, and they're all located in Amsterdam Zuid, which is the south of Amsterdam, the business district. And before it was a lot of insurance companies and now there are all these like payment, big companies in which all the platforms are connected. Because of course they process payments from Airbnb, Vinted, Depop, Uber, every Uber Eats and Uber rider and driver. Yeah, so I'm seeing even another part of platformization. So if we talk about platform, now that I'm warming up, and thinking, yeah, I'm thinking about the physical articulation of those offices, because they need offices, right. So they will be strategically located also. And this is a built environment. I want to really highlight what you said before the acceleration of it, how it happens, and how the city has a clear impact of it. It's crazy.

Liv Phoinix  32:55

Taking all of this in, I can't help but wonder, does accelerationism have a direct link with being slutty? In other words, is it the speeding up of technology and how we use it: to broaden our connections, increase our options, make life more carefree. Is this the link to promiscuity put forward by the Slutty Urbanism Collective? And beneath this question, I'm wondering, is this fourth wave feminism kind of obscuring itself as third wave feminism? Or is this just exactly where we're at with Western, arguably white feminism. Caught between the narratives of the third and the fourth waves? What I mean here is that we're using words of a sex-positive, liberated agency, empowerment, and embracing the word slut for all of its complexity. But at the same time, I'm suspecting a bit of self questioning, in terms of morality, perhaps a feeling of just being bastardised by it all. So I asked Letizia to tell me more about the manifesto for Slutty Urbanism.

Liv Phoinix  33:56

In your manifesto, for the Slutty Urbanism, you talk about a couple of ways that you use this term, the symbolic which you already touched on, and then more of a semantic. The semantic associations of the word, and the semantic associations you mentioned: pathology and sin, and amorality and promiscuity. So I was just curious, I want to like kind of hit you with these concepts individually and hear what comes to mind, maybe with this idea of accelerationism parallel to that. So like, what's, what's the pathology with all this?

Letizia Chiappini  34:32

The pathology is like, we are pathological in living in the urban. I mean, that's also our positionality as academics. I want to make a little clarification, we wrote the manifesto before the pandemic,

Liv Phoinix  34:48

When did you write it?

Letizia Chiappini  34:49

So we wrote it in 2018/at the beginning of 2019 and then it took a while to... just to think about it, if it was okay, to publish it on Medium. Because we were also like, it's our reputation you know? No, but I really didn't care, again. But what we were thinking like, we are academics, right? So we, we are three women. Ying-Tzu Lin from Taiwan, Taipei. And Anastasiya Halauniova from Belarussia, and myself. All women from different countries living in a city like Amsterdam, and saying, well, we have to pay this rent, it's crazy, because well, that's another story. Global cities also have a kind of very unaffordable lifestyle, I mean, the rent is very expensive. So we were thinking, we're pathological because we need to be in the proximity of the city we need to live in, if we want to stay at UFA, in academia, to gravitate around what we need in terms of networks, in terms of relational capital. Of course, you can be also in a very remote place, but still, that's what was happening. It was here, so conferences or events, symposiums. So that's the pathological part, the pathology we need to live in cities in order to to make our, our salary out of it. To stay close by what we, what we also, well what we like. Our friends, our amenities. But sin, is also because we are sinners. We are part of this. So we do like it. We are hedonistic in that. We are not ashamed to say it. And amorality, because of course there is this amoral perspective saying... ok, we were thinking, when we go to a conference, we look up for the cheapest place, right? We don't go to the hotel, or we maybe share an apartment and his apartment can be on Airbnb. So it can also be amoral in that sense, because what is the cost for us to go to a hotel. It is higher for us, we have our resources. And promiscuity is because indeed we talk to policymakers, talk to urbanists, Architects, and we are promiscuous, we also we cannot avoid that, right? It's a bit hypocrite to say, "Oh, well, I'm a sociologist, whatever I am, a geographer, and this is my little ivory tower". No, we want to be promiscuous because we think is important to discuss and to break rules and in our language. So those are... we started from these epithets, how we call it.

Liv Phoinix  37:35

Yeah, I was reading your play, now this morning. It's a three-act-play, right? That you had submitted for the Biennale, the Architecture Biennale, in Venice.

Letizia Chiappini  37:44


Liv Phoinix  37:45

What got you to write?

Letizia Chiappini  37:47

Our idea was to go there and to blog live, to have a residency in Venice, to blog about the topic Platform Urbanism, within platform Austria. The architects that invited us are Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer. They both wrote this amazing piece called How We Live Together. And it was before the pandemic, about our cities. So what we do in our cities. Then the pandemic started so they also have to change their curatorial statement a bit, more in a kind of online version. And then they ask us, "what do you like to write about within Platform Urbanism and the pandemic"? So we thought about the glitch, a connection to a book that I read recently called Glitch Feminism.

Liv Phoinix  38:39

Ah yeah, written by Legacy Russell.

Letizia Chiappini  38:41

Yes, exactly. And I found it very powerful the notion of glitch because again, we are a glitch we function as glitch I perceive myself also a bit as a glitch, in academia. So maybe another, academic refugees, we can be also a disrupter, a rupture or something that doesn't go with the binary 010101. And then we thought about Glitches In The Pandemic as a title and to give and to read from another perspective, our relationship with technology. To say, what is our relationship? The first is about a chatbot with Airbnb, and the second is about Alexa.

Liv Phoinix  39:24

Alexa and Avocado. Right?

Letizia Chiappini  39:26

Exactly. And the third one, which I found very interesting also, it's the relationship with artificial intelligence, How To Make Love. So it's a new kind of discussion we had, it was more about our bodies. So how our bodies are into that. Our bodies create glitches. Our bodies are into technology more than we think.

Liv Phoinix  39:55

I'm Liv Phoinix, host and producer of Body Is Construct. Big thanks to Letizia Chiappini, for the talk, from her perspective as a researcher and lecturer in Creative Business at the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht. Music by Ookean, Falcon DIves, Martin Landström, Bladverk Band, Dream Cave, and Farrel Wooten.

Click here for the full forty minutes of audio on Spotify