Joseph M Palacios




Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS)
General profile


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By Appointment. Call 202-905-7340


Professor Joseph Palacios (Ph.D., Sociology, University of California, Berkeley) teaches in the Liberal Studies and Latin American Studies Programs at Georgetown University. His courses include: Introduction to the Social Sciences, Making a Difference in Society, Introduction to Urban and Community Development, Introduction to Sociology, Social Theory, Social Justice Analysis, Religion and Society, Latino Sociology, Culture and Power in Latin America, and Sociology of Culture. He is also part of the graduate faculty of the School of Foreign Service's Latin American Studies Program specializing in political culture and religion in Latin America. Palacios brings to his academic career wide experience in corporate diversity management, faith-based community organizing, and religious pastoral work among minorities and immigrants in California.

Professor Palacios is a sociologist of political culture whose research interests include: Latin American and Latino Sociology, Sociology of Religion, Political Culture, Civil Society, and Social Theory. In the spring of 2007 the University of Chicago Press published his book "The Catholic Social Imagination: Activism and the Just Society in Mexico and the United States." He also was invited to write on "Morality Battles" in Contemporary Sociology and contributed an article entitled “Reconfiguring American Civil Religion: The Triumph of Values.” Professor Palacios has done continuous research on the Catholic Church in Latin America and the United States since 1996. In 2006 he expanded his research on Mexico and the social doctrine of religion to include Chile and Argentina, as part of a book project entitled "Latin American Civil Religions: From Democracy, Dictatorship, and Transition Towards Pluralistic Democratic Cultures." He was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for Chile and taught a doctoral seminar on "Religion and Society in the United States" and conducted research at Universidad de Santiago's Institute for American Studies from March-July 2009.

While in Chile Palacios developed a new book project entitled “Chilifornia: Chile, Latin Vanguard Nation” in which he analyzes Chile as Latin America’s leading democratic and innovative nation. His thesis is that key to Chile’s development has been its capacity for building a strong pluralistic civil religion binding diverse sectors of Chile into a dynamic political culture and economy.

Since 2005 Professor Palacios has been the Director of the Georgetown Community-Based Learning Summer Program at Universidad Alberto Hurtado in Santiago, Chile. This program provides students an integrated and intensive learning program of community service, Spanish language instruction, sociology and culture courses, and field trips designed to give students a comprehensive experience of Chilean and Latin American society and the social issues of a modern democratic society.

Professor Palacios is a consultant to a variety of human and civil rights organizations and a member of the Board of Directors of Catholics for Equality, the Board of Governors of the Human Rights Campaign, and the board of America Solidaria. He has been a commentator on National Public Radio, the Voice of America, C-Span, Fox News, Univisión, Televisa, Catholic New Service, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.

In October 2009 Palacios received a White House appointment to serve on the Board of Visitors of the Western Hemispheric Institute of Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) at Fort Benning, GA. WHINSEC in the U.S. training facility of Latin American military officers. The Board of Visitors scrutinizes WHINSEC’s curriculum and practices, particularly in regards to human rights issues. He presently serves as Vice-Chair of the Board.


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  • Ph.D. (2001) University of California, Berkeley, Sociology
  • M.A. (1998) University of California, Berkeley, Sociology
  • M.Div. (1987) St. John’s Seminary, Camarillo, Calif., Religion
  • A.B. (1973) University of California, Santa Cruz, Sociology


  • Spanish (speak, read, write)