Dawn-Elissa Fischer


Dawn-Elissa Fischer models our Department's founding philosophies, our College's mission and our University's core values in her commitment to teaching, service and research excellence.

B+ photo of DrDEF outdoors in SF near Golden Gate Bridge at dawn

Dr. Fischer is a conscientious researcher, known for her curious and energetic commitment to inquiry, she has completed a diverse resume of research projects. Fischer's rigorous research agenda is not unnoticed, as she is a recipient of the 2016 Nasir Jones Fellowship, Hutchins Center, Harvard University. Fischer's February 28, 2017 Mbongi in the Department of Africana Studies at SF State revealed her recent work theorizing Africana aesthetics in Hiphop-influenced anime and manga

Fischer Presentation at Harvard Hiphop Archive Dr Morgan October 2016 flier

Fischer's passion for lifelong learning and critical inquiry transfer to her effectiveness, her creativity and popularity in courses.

While Fischer is most known in international academic settings for her teaching of SF State's historic Hiphop course, with Davey D, that was published as a sample of teaching excellence by two-time AERA awardee and former AERA President, Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings,  Fischer's also known within eBlack Studies and Africana Digital Humanities teaching and scholarship for her work on "Black Online: Cyberspace, Culture, Community." Black Online was reinvented and remixed on the eve of the explosion of social media by Dr. Fischer. Moreover, Fischer is acclaimed for her "Anthropology of Blackness" course, which renders visible the historically unique relationships among Africana studies and anthropology. Fischer teaches these courses in the tradition of Zora Neal Hurston, St. Clair Drake, Faye V. Harrison and Marcyliena Morgan.

Dr Faye Harrison and Chuck D with DEF

Professor Fischer represented the campus in her service to the SF State Strategic Planning Coordinating Committee, in which campus core values were re-imagined as part of academic planning that simultaneously honors SF State's uniqiue legacy and continues the campus innovation to set new standards for university life, social justice and academic freedom. In addition to being part of a research and writing team that helped to craft SF State's current Strategic Plan, Dr. Fischer served the CSU-wide initiative originally titled Student Success and Graduation Initiaves.

Dr Morgan founded HARI nearly three decades ago

Student panelists and awardees gather with faculty at NCBS 2013

Indeed, Dawn-Elissa Fischer is committed to student access and success in higher education.

In the Department of Africana Studies, Dr. Fischer is an Associate Professor and she teaches courses on international Black popular culture, information technology and visual ethnography. Thanks to the support of the Woodrow Wilson National Foundation Career Enhancement Fellowship, she is completing two manuscripts entitled Blackness, Race and Gender Politics in Japanese Hiphop and Methods to Floss, Theories to Flow: Hiphop Research, Aesthetics and Activism (an introductory textbook).  Her work has been published in Doing Race: 21 Essays for the 21st Centurythe Journal of Popular Music Studies, Transforming Anthropology, FIRE!!! The Multimedia Journal of Black Studies and The Western Journal of Black Studies.

Dr. Fischer co-produced a short film, Nihon Style, with Bianca White, which documents an annual Hiphop festival and its related organizations in Japan. She co-directs the BAHHRS (the Bay Area Hip Hop Research and Scholarship) project with Dave “Davey D” Cook, which was awarded the Cesar Chavez Institute’s Community-University Empowerment Grant.  Dr. Fischer is a founding staff member of Dr. Marcyliena Morgan’s Hiphop Archive as well as a co-founder of the National Hip Hop Political Convention.

 microphone in hand and wooden wall background

Fischer's motto remains "Edutainment4Life," which is the name of a non-profit that she began with her mother, Cheryl Fischer, who founded the organization, Kuumba na Umoja (Swahili for "Creativity and Unity"). Edutainment4Life is intended to remind us all about the importance of lifelong learning and life skills development. These include the centrality of "radical acts of self-care" (cf., Audre Lorde), "DMP: deep mirroring pedagogy" (TM by Durryle Brooks), because beyond the "Black experience lies the human experience" (cf., St. Clair Drake). 

     {Site Profile Photo Credit: Dr. Marcia Lima; DEF with Mic Photo Credit: Greg Case; Heading Photo by B+/ Brian Cross}

See more photos by B+ at http://mochilla.com/bplus

Dr. Fischer's model concerning student success and degree completion is easy to remember in three steps:

  • find your FIT,
  • find your FACULTY,
  • find your FLOW.

Whether you are from the Bay Area or newly arrived from far away, finding your FIT— peers, organizations, activities that resonate with your interests and/or major-- help students acclimate to the transition into our campus community. FACULTY are essential to this process as well. Find faculty who nurture, mentor and advise you on your pathway to success. Finding faculty who resonate with your intellectual interests and inspire your sense of professional self are important in college. Finding your faculty and your fit are the foundations of helping you to get in the rhythm of success: your FLOW.  Meet with your advisers at least once if not twice a semester.