Felicia Viator

Assistant Professor
(415) 338-6177
Building: Science
Room Number: 267B
Office Hours: 
Monday: 11:00 am-12:00 pm
Wednesday: 11:00 am-12:00 pm


I am an American historian with a focus on nineteenth and twentieth century social and cultural history. From this perspective, I’ve been especially interested in examining the history of California, popular entertainment and the African American experience. My forthcoming book, Gangster Boogie: Los Angeles Rap in the Reagan Era, explores all three. It explains how black youths in 1980s Los Angeles transformed the region’s hidden urban crisis into a national obsession, one that would prove culturally and politically consequential. For my next project, I plan to investigate the dramatic economic expansion and urban growth in the Bay Area during the 1970s, an otherwise austere decade for the rest of the country marked by a national energy crisis, rising unemployment and urban blight.

In the classroom, I aim to help history majors and non-majors alike develop the kinds of critical reading and persuasive writing skills that can apply to a wide range of careers. I also challenge my students to develop a sense of historical empathy, a true willingness to evaluate the past on its own terms rather than through the lens of the present. 


  • Ph.D., History, UC Berkeley, 2012
  • B.A., History, UC Berkeley, 1999

Research Interests

  • California and the West
  • African American History
  • Urban Development
  • The Reagan Era
  • Popular Culture

Selected Publications

  • Gangster Boogie: Los Angeles Rap in the Reagan Era (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, under contract)
  • Abraça a Tristeza’”: Fado and Fadocore Music in the California Central Valley.” In Untamed Dreams: Faces of America, eds. Francisco Henrique Dinis and José do Couto Rodrigues (San Jose: Portuguese Heritage Publications of California, 2016
  • Review of Segregated Soldiers: Military Training at Historically Black Colleges in the Jim Crow South by Marcus S. Cox, The Journal of American Culture (September 2014), 377-378
  • Review of Filipinos Represent: DJs, Racial Authenticity, and the Hip-Hop Nation by Antonio T. Tiongson, Jr., American Studies Journal (April 2014), 200-201

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Arthur Ferreira Pinto Foundation Fellowship
  • Luso-American Education Foundation Fellowship
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award
  • Doctoral Speaker for UC Berkeley History Commencement 2013

Community Service

  • Faculty Mentor for UC Berkeley Graduate Teaching and Learning Working Group, 2014 - 2015
  • Program Coordinator and Teacher for Urban Arts Academy After-School Program, Calvin Simmons Middle School, Oakland, 2001 - 2002
  • Social Studies Teacher for the Prison University Project, San Quentin State Prison, 1997- 1999