Felicia Angeja Viator
CSET Waiver Adviser
I’m an American historian with a focus on nineteenth and twentieth century social and cultural history. I’m especially interested in California, popular entertainment, and youth culture. I explore all three in my first book, To Live and Defy in LA: How Gangsta Rap Changed America (2020). It’s an origin story of what was once reffered to as “gangsta rap” woven into the unique and complex history of Black Los Angeles. Scholars have a habit of treating LA rap as a renegade outgrowth of New York hip-hop that only mattered briefly. But I put the music and its creators squarely at the center of the story of how hip-hop survived the 1980s and radically transformed American culture.
My next book will explore youth, parenting, and fear in late twentieth century suburban life, with a focus on “stranger danger” concerns, the Satanic Panic trials, Just Say No anti-drug campaigns, cable TV, and, yes, rap music. In the meantime, I recently published a couple of articles, including one on Black mobile DJ crews in 1980s Los Angeles, a pet project inspired by my first career as a Bay Area mobile DJ.
In my classroom, we connect the present to the past. And I help all of my students –– history majors and non-majors alike –– develop the kinds of critical reading and persuasive communication skills that they can apply to any career.
- Ph.D., History, UC Berkeley, 2012
- B.A., History, UC Berkeley, 1999
- California and the West
- African American History
- Youth and Childhood
- The Reagan Era
- Popular Culture
- To Live and Defy in L.A: How Gangsta Rap Changed America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2020)
- "Can 4DX Save Movie Theaters?" The Washington Post, July 22, 2022
- "Video of the Police Assault on Rodney King Shocked Us. But What Did It Change?" The Washington Post, March 3, 2021.
- "Weapon of Mass Destruction: On the LAPD and Its Battering Ram," Lapham's Quarterly, February 25, 2020.
- “A Very Brief History of Authenticity in Hip-Hop (Or, Why Billie Eilish Was Wrong),” Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal: No. 26, The Pop Issue (May 2020)
- “The Explicit Anthem of Anti-Racist Protest,” The Washington Post, June 22, 2020.
- "West Coast Originals: A Case for Reassessing the 'Bronx West' Story of Black Youth Culture in 1980s Los Angeles," American Studies Journal: New Directions in Black Western Studies (October 2019)
- 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
- "Language Matters in the Kyle Rittenhouse Trial," The Washington Post, November 4, 2021. Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/11/04/language-matters-kyle-rittenhouse-trial/
- "Gangsta Rap and LA History," Money 4 Nothing, Podcast Episode 30, June 7, 2021
- "Lost and Found - Los Angeles (Part One)," Blueprint for Living with Jonathan Green, ABC Radio National, November 12, 2020
- "Lost and Found - Los Angeles (Part Two)," Blueprint for Living with Jonathan Green, ABC Radio National, November 22, 2020
- Author Q&A with Host Stephen Hausmann, New Books in the American West Podcast, October 26, 2020
- "To Live and Die with The Questions, Felicia Viator, and AWOL ONE," Dad Pod Rap Pod, Podcast Episode 127, July 16, 2020
- “Felicia Angeja Viator on Cypress Hill’s ‘Cypress Hill’ (1991),” Heat Rocks, Podcast Episode 139, May 28, 2020
- “It Was A Good Day: Talking the Rise of Gangsta Rap with Felicia Angeja Viator,” Los Angeles Review of Books Podcast, April 12, 2020
- “Rap, Music Video, and Policing,” for the US History Scene: The Show Must Go On web series
- “Toddy Tee and the Batterram,” for the US History Scene: The Show Must Go On web series
- “Round Table: California History at the College Level,” in California History, Vol. 95. No. 4, Winter 2018
Selected Awards and Honors
- LCA Faculty Excellence Award
- Historical Society of Southern California’s Ahmanson Foundation Grant for Book Publication
- San Francisco State University Presidential Award for Professional Development
- Arthur Ferreira Pinto Foundation Fellowship
- Luso-American Education Foundation Fellowship
- Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award
- Doctoral Speaker for UC Berkeley History Commencement 2013
- Finalist, 2021 PROSE Award for Book in Music and the Performing Arts, Association of American Publishers
- History Consultant, The Grammy Museum
- Editor, Made By History at The Washington Post
- History Discipline Coordinator and Program Designer for new Social Science Waiver Program, SFSU, 2017 – Present
- Faculty Curriculum Advisor, CURE Program Innovation Project, History, SFSU, 2019
- 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