Feminist Pedagogy in the Podcast University with Kim Fox

By Amplify Network Date: April 19, 2022 Tags: Podcasting

Amplified is an audio blog series about the sounds of scholarship from our team here at the Amplify Podcast Network. This month I’m joined by Kim Fox, professor of Practice at The American University in Cairo to talk feminism, pedagogy, and what we might envision for the future of podcasting in the university ecosystem. Kim takes us behind the scenes of their latest co-authored study “Egyptian Female Podcasters Shaping Feminist Identities” (Fox & Abada 2022) to reimagine how students might learn differently by stepping in front of the microphone.


Stacey Copeland: [00:00:00] Welcome to Amplified, an audio blog, a podcast about the sounds of scholarship from our team here at the Amplify Podcast Network. I’m your host, Stacey Copeland. Podcasting is being taken up in classrooms across the globe as a tool for reimagining how students might learn differently by stepping in front of the microphone. Today, we go behind the scenes of a new publication from leading podcast pedagogy scholar Kim Fox, professor of Practise at the American University in Cairo. Kim and I talk feminism, pedagogy, and what we might envision for the future of podcasting in the university ecosystem. I first met Kim through the Podacademics, an international network of podcast scholars, and they’ve become a trusted colleague and friend ever since. Their co-authored study “Egyptian Female Podcasters Shaping Feminist Identities” revisits the student podcasts that you’re hearing right now.

Clip from Abaza, N. “28 and Single” : [00:01:05] how widespread is arranged marriage in Egypt today? I think it still prevails, but in a modernized way.

Clip from Mahmoud, K. “The Diaries of AUCians Abroad” : [00:01:10] I’m a little bit Sick of Egypt. I’m not sure I like living in Egypt anymore.

Stacey Copeland: [00:01:15] To explore podcasting as a tool of cyber activism.

Clip from El Safty, S. “Life, Bread, and Gold: The Story of an Egyptian Street Food Vendor”: [00:01:19] How can I explain real life Cairo to someone who’s never been there?

Clip from Rajab. J. “The Egyptian Revolution in the Eyes of Women” : [00:01:24] Protesters call for the end of Mubarak’s rule, a new era for Egypt’s democracy.

Stacey Copeland: [00:01:29] Through conversation with former students on how they acquire feminist knowledge and the role that podcasting has played in shaping their identities. Here is Kim Fox, a.k.a. the Podcast Professor on Feminist Pedagogy in the Podcast University.

Kim Fox: [00:01:54] I’m Kim Fox. I am a professor of Practice at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. And I’ve been living and working here for 12 years since 2009. I am also the founder and organizer of PodFest Cairo. It is Egypt and Africa’s first podcasting conference, and that’s a really exciting venture. And finally, I am the executive producer of the Ehky Ya Maser podcast, Tell Your Story Egypt. And we’ve been doing that since about 2017.

Stacey Copeland: [00:02:25] Yeah, I was just saying before we started the interview, I feel like there’s so many topics we could talk about that I could talk to you about. Kim, from your experiences with the media industry literally across the globe as well as your community building and Cairo and your workshops that you’ve hosted various institutions and of course the establishment of the Podacademics Network too. That’s really brought an international group of podcast studies researchers together. But today I’d like to hopefully focus in on the topic that I think you’re really, truly one of the key experts on right now, and that is podcasting and pedagogy, particularly your work in bringing feminist and critical race studies to the conversation of podcasting in the classroom. So you did just co-author a brand new article on Egyptian podcasting and feminist identities with Yasmeen Abada. Could you tell us a bit about that article and why you decided to do a case study on feminist podcasting in your classroom?

Kim Fox: [00:03:28] In my audio production class, the final project students have to produce a long piece narrative nonfiction piece, and they get to select their own topics. So after some time I start to notice this theme. I’m like, Is there a theme here? Is there not a theme? It’s just seems like there’s some feminist tendencies that are jumping out here. And I remember one time we did a listening session for one of the classes, one of the only classes where I did it, and they were very “ra ra”. I can see Mahmoud. She had studied abroad.

Clip from Mahmoud, K. “The Diaries of AUCians Abroad” : [00:03:59] Yeah, that’s me. Kanzy Mahmoud. I was twenty, sitting with my friend Mahe and I was trying really hard to make up my mind on whether to go on exchange to University of Washington in Seattle for six whole month.

Kim Fox: [00:04:12] And when she came back, she was just on fire, like, why do I have a curfew? When I was in the US, I could just be out to four in the morning and this tone came out a lot in the young women in my classes.

Clip from Mahmoud, K. “The Diaries of AUCians Abroad” : [00:04:24] I felt trapped and I could no longer relate to many people and I had to abide by what the society tells me to do so…

Kim Fox: [00:04:30] There was a special call in the research journal Learning Media and Technology, and when I saw the call, I said, I should, I should probably consider doing something about this. I’ve cast as this digital platform for activism, cyber activism, and we’re in sort of that fourth era of feminism being the digital realm and whatnot. So then we had to narrow it down to which podcasts we would focus on, and I decided to go with the ones that had won international awards. So that was where I got the idea.

Clip from Mahmoud, K. “The Diaries of AUCians Abroad” : [00:05:05] To have any chance of development as a nation, we need to change the way we think, especially when it comes to women.

Stacey Copeland: [00:05:12] I really appreciate that about your work, Kim. In this article, you’re you’re really working to dissenter the teacher as the sole source of knowledge in the classroom and instead turning to your students to approach podcast production as a collective learning experience in that they’re learning with their peers and that you are learning from them. Learning, learning about feminism in the broader Egyptian context. I really enjoyed a lot of the intersections and discussion you do in your article around talking about digital feminism, but also in really breaking out of universalising discussions of feminism. And in your work, you’re bringing in a lot more of the context of Muslim feminist activism that these kinds of podcasts that you’re studying are working within. And so I was curious, what was the importance here for you in taking the time to really situate this particular feminist history in your discussion of feminist podcasting and pedagogy?

Kim Fox: [00:06:11] I was certainly curious about it and so was Yasmeen. In the classroom to speak a little bit about the pedagogy, but to come back to that wider feminism in Egypt, the pedagogy is also to get the students to have conversations about each other’s pieces. And I’ll go back to Kanzy’s piece because there was a guy in her piece and she said, like, he’s living it up in D.C. and he’s not having the same struggles that they’re having when he comes back home. So that’s where that Muslim feminist component comes in. And so I’m asking them, like, where are you gaining this knowledge and getting these these tendencies? Is it from your college level experience or does it come before that? And so that’s when we knew we had to do some interviews to engage them a little bit more. And I thought the interview process was interesting because all of these pieces were probably produced at least five or six years ago. So that gap, I think, is also telling because we had them go back and listen to their pieces and say, you know, like, what did you know then as in you what do you remember about producing and producing that piece? And were you like strong feminist at the time?

Stacey Copeland: [00:07:22] Completely. And I mean, you write in your article that the tenets of the feminist pedagogical experience are community, empowerment, and leadership. And of course, we know it’s one thing to say that, you know, women’s empowerment is important and let’s empower each other. But it’s another thing completely to actually put that into practise in the classroom and try to navigate, you know, the different values and perspectives that students are bringing into that space. And I particularly appreciate the way that in this article you really take the time to give the context, the Egyptian context of locality and religion. That’s so important to situating Egyptian feminism not simply just as a copy paste of Western feminism, but a feminism of its own with its own complex and rich histories. And there’s something to, you know, revisiting and relistening to work that students did a few years ago, just following hashtag MeToo and the way that that hashtag exploded in 2017, for instance, revisiting work from around that time today and talking to those students about how they felt about their own feminism at the time, but then also what it means to listen back to yourself and listen back to maybe how things have changed, how your feminism has changed since getting to explore these topics through podcasting. So we’ve been talking a bit about feminist pedagogy. I’m wondering if you could expand a bit more on that for me and what that actually looks like in practise or sounds like in practise in the classroom. Perhaps if you have some best practises you’ve found over time that really are most effective in helping students start to think about their own positionality in their work, what’s really informing them to feel like they can be welcomed into bringing Muslim feminism, feminist ideas, into the classroom?

Kim Fox: [00:09:25] Yeah, you definitely want to give them some agency as often as possible. And so I am situating the class so that that I want them to be more engaged. Like I said, everything is really, really open. So when a draft script comes in, some of the draft scripts get critiqued in front of the class, and then they also critique in the small group, there’s always an opportunity for them to give feedback on their colleagues work. And I think that does help because it helps them to figure out where am I in this process. I mean, students are always trying to compare themselves and say, Oh, this is better than mine or hers is is more well developed. Yeah, but at least you kind of know where you are. And we’re not doing cookie cutter journalism in podcasts. Like everyone’s at a different place for a different reason. And all of those students who are focused in this article did their pieces differently, and rightfully so, because they all have very, very different stories. So I just think in the classroom the walls need to come down. And this is also interesting because we have men in the classroom and sometimes we have men who are traditionalists. So like, you know, so we have to check them lightweight so that, I want them to be involved in the conversation, but we also want women to be involved. And that’s just a matter of saying, ‘Hey, Stacey, you know, I read your script. Can you tell us a little bit more about this particular process?’ So sometimes calling people out, even though some people get uncomfortable with that, but sometimes they’ll say, oh, no, I don’t have anything more to say, but… And then they go into another thing. I’m like, Yes! Come on and be a part of the discussion. So yeah.

Stacey Copeland: [00:11:05] Yeah. I think that’s a great tactic to bring forward, you know, the, the idea of making sure that voices are getting equal space and are invited into equal space. When we do have a structure of a classroom where as an instructor you’re at the front of the class, you have the power to kind of negotiate how much space people are taking up and then maybe notice who isn’t speaking up in those spaces. I think that’s really a really great tip to bring forward. So in that case, how has your teaching practise around podcasting and really exploring feminist epistemology in the classroom? Translated into your own production work? Because on top of being a teacher, you also make your own audio work as well. Could you tell me a bit about that intersection.

Kim Fox: [00:11:54] I can tell you about it because it comes from the classroom. My students have been doing amazing work and so at the end of the semester, they just kind of look at each other like, ‘what now?’ I’m just like, I don’t know, like the world isn’t… We’re not really doing podcasts in Egypt on that level. And, and so I remember one year I was talking to one of my Ekhy Ya Maser producers. She’s now a producer. Her name is Nour Ibrahim.

Clip of Ehky Ya Maser “Wasta in Egypt” : [00:12:17] I’m Nour Ibrahim And on this episode of the Ekhy Ya Maser Podcast…

Kim Fox: [00:12:19] Nour and I were talking and she was like, Yeah, I’m really interested in audio and I really like it. And so I said, We should start something, we should do a thing. And I’m like, Ah, at first we were waiting for funding and the funding never came through. Nour And I sat down. I said, Nour come up with a name for it. And, you know, we want to do something like This American Life. We want to do narrative non-fiction stories. We knew we wanted to do something like what they were doing in class. And so I found a few other former students who did really good work and were heavily interested in and engaged. And so I tried to make sure with the Ehky Ya Maser podcast team I need to make sure that they have agency as well. Like, how can I be instructive by saying, okay, here’s, here’s how, here’s what an EP does? Like they were like, What’s an EP? I’m like, you know, here’s what an executive producer of a podcast does. And also trying to share this with my colleagues, trying to impart to them that they can also go out and do this. So we’re trying to say, can we do training to others and teach them how to do this in Arabic?

Clip from Ekhy Ya Maser “The Egyptian Microbus Driver”: [00:13:21] [Arabic intro to Ehky Maser Podcast]

Kim Fox: [00:13:25] How do I give them agency to showcase and share their knowledge points with others?

Stacey Copeland: [00:13:30] You’ve been teaching for a long time. A decade now at AUC?

Kim Fox: [00:13:35] 12 years.

Stacey Copeland: [00:13:36] 12 years? Yeah. So in that time, podcasting has seen a huge change in how it’s been taken up in university spaces. So I’d be curious to hear your take on what you think the future is for podcasting in the university space. Maybe some initiatives that are exciting you right now or what you’re hoping to push forward in your own efforts with pedagogy and podcasting.

Kim Fox: [00:14:02] I have really big ideas from my university. It’s just a matter of can I get them to buy in? And if I don’t, what happens? But I see some universities doing it. My alma mater was doing quite a few things that were podcasting related.

Stacey Copeland: [00:14:14] Ohio?

Kim Fox: [00:14:15] Yeah. Ohio University. I went back there for a semester, I think, in 2015, and they were still on the early stages of doing something really robust. But now they got it. They have a podcasting certificate. And I really think that is that’s a viable way to get your media programme to have more visibility on campus by offering this certificate, which is available for anyone, because this is something that is not just in our field anymore. You know, people can bring a lot of different skill sets and knowledge points to to podcasting. But I do know that I think universities need to know how they how it will benefit you in multiple ways. So now they have a podcasting studio, which I believe is on the first floor of the main building where all of the – where the College of Communication is housed. And so that’s real visible with an open window and you can walk by and wave to the podcasters and that’s always cool, right? And then they have a public radio station. WOUB. I used to work there as an undergrad, so very fond of my experience there, but they also have a lot of different podcasts and so they’ve been very active to see who are the scholars on campus who can either come and host the podcast or to be guests on podcasts. So I really like the way that they farmed it out so that it’s not just one dynamic, but it’s very layered.

Stacey Copeland: [00:15:37] Interesting point when we’re talking about podcasting, too. You know, I’m in media and communication. Your background is in journalism. But there’s so many people across disciplines that are excited and producing podcasts now who maybe don’t have media backgrounds as well. A final question to bring us out here. If you were in front of a bunch of podcast interested teachers who are interested in bringing podcast productions to their classroom, thinking outside of the journalism space too, what would your best tips be for them? What kind of tips would you give them in thinking about bringing podcast production into their practise?

Kim Fox: [00:16:16] I want them to ask themselves, why are they wanting to bring podcast production into their teaching? I know what kind of confidence it brings to my students. I had one student who had a really thick accent and she was very self-conscious of it and she was just like, Oh, never went in a war with this accent. And I told her, I’m like, I just need you to stop trying to worry about that and just speak. Tell your story. Your story is strong. And she ended up winning some awards as well. And so, you know, I think that’s what the professors or educators need to know. Like, are you trying to get students to share their story or what are you trying to get out of it? I did an exchange with a colleague at Oberlin College. I’ve done a couple of exchanges, but the one at Oberlin, we’re going to revisit it again in another year or so. And we were doing oral histories and he specifically, because he’s Pre-Med, he wanted to use this in the oral histories and interviewing as a chance to get his Pre-Med students more comfortable with older adults. And so we focused on older adults and education. And so that was a theme that was- that really resonated with both of our different audiences in Ohio and in Egypt, in Cairo.

Kim Fox: [00:17:31] And it really resonated with the students because… Because education is kind of universal. And they, and they could then go to some of their family members, for example. And so we ended up getting like a lot of rich family histories that had this education background from older adults in these young people are talking to family members about topics that they had never addressed before. And so for me, it’s like, what do I want to get out of this? I want students to have their appreciation for this history that’s undocumented. And so that’s the thing that I want to get out of it. And so Stacey needs to say, well, ‘I want to try and do this podcasting thing for what?’ Maybe you have – you’re teaching English and you want the students to get more comfortable. So maybe have them do a roundtable discussion and you can pick the topics and help them have some discussions in that regard. It’s it’s a really fun opportunity and I like that it doesn’t have to be in a box. That we can take this thing and we can make it work for us in our different classrooms and have some amazing outcomes.

Stacey Copeland: [00:18:36] Thanks for listening to Amplified. Behind the scenes of scholarly podcasting. Coming to you each month from our team here at Amplify Podcast Network. If you have comments or additional thoughts on our conversation today or on any of our Amplify initiatives, please do reach out. We’d love to hear from you. Otherwise, I will catch you next month as we sit down with scientific director of the Public Knowledge Project, Juan Pablo Alperin, to talk what counts as scholarship and the growing movement behind open science.

Guest Bio

Kim Fox is a professor of practice in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication (JRMC) at The American University in Cairo (AUC) in Cairo, Egypt. She primarily teaches Audio Production and other journalism courses. PodFest Cairo, Egypt’s first podcasting conference was founded and organized by Fox in 2020. She has been a consultant on numerous audio related projects including the HUSSLab, an organized research lab, on the AUC campus as well as for the Enterprise Egypt podcast “Making It.” As the executive producer of the award-winning Ehky Ya Masr (Tell Your Story Egypt) Podcast, a narrative nonfiction podcast about life in Cairo, Egypt, she works with young freelance producers, many of them former students, writing and editing audio content.

Additional Links

Intro + Outro Music: Pxl Cray – Blue Dot Studios (2016)

Written and produced by: Stacey Copeland

Work Featured:

Fox, K. & Ebada, Y. (2022). Egyptian Female Podcasters: Shaping Feminist Identities. Learning, Media and Technology, 47(1), 53–64. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2021.2020286


Kim’s Twitter – https://twitter.com/KimFoxWOSU

Ehky Ya Maser podcast – https://soundcloud.com/ehkyyamasr

Ehky Ya Maser Arabic Clip from “The Egyptian Microbus Driver” – https://soundcloud.com/ehkyyamasr/the-egyptian-microbus-driver

Ehky Ya Maser Clip of Nour from “Wasta in Egypt” –https://soundcloud.com/ehkyyamasr/wasta-in-egypt

Student Work Featured in the Intro:

Abaza, N. “28 and Single.” https://soundcloud.com/nazlyabaza10/28-and-single-documentary 

Mahmoud, K. “The Diaries of AUCians Abroad.” https://soundcloud.com/kanzy-mahmoud/the-diaries-of-aucians-abroad?in = ohradiogirl/sets/jrmc-award-winning-audio

El Safty, S. “Life, Bread, and Gold: The Story of an Egyptian Street Food Vendor.” https://soundcloud.com/arahlafty/life-bread-and-gold-the-story-of-an-egyptian-street-food-vendor?in = ohradiogirl/sets/jrmc-award-winning-audio

Rajab. J. “The Egyptian Revolution in the Eyes of Women.” https://soundcloud.com/jeje-rajab-1/the-egyptian-revolution-in-the-eyes-of-women