Joseph M. Towle

Associate Professor

Old Main 200 C
CB 99

From beginning to advanced classes, language learning and the study of literatures and cultures teaches cultural awareness, deepens the acquisition of a second language, and instills a new sense of self-discovery. I love being part of Augsburg’s commitment to international education and preparing students for international learning, work, volunteer experiences and living abroad.

My main area of study is Latin America, specifically Mexico, Cuba, and Central America. I teach Spanish at all levels as well as Introduction to Cultural Studies (LCS 100)

One of my current research projects focuses on the Zapatista revolution in Chiapas, Mexico. Interdisciplinary in its scope, this project draws on human rights activism, indigenous rights, literary analysis, cultural studies and political theory in order to analyze Zapatista strategies to sustain social change. In addition to understanding the day-today workings of the Zapatista revolution, I am doing further research on Subcomandante Marcos’ fictional detective Elías Contreras. Of particular interest in studying the adventures of Elías, is how Marcos uses the detective fiction genre to critique capitalism, the Mexican political system, and academics and intellectuals (including Marcos) as he searches for clues and answers to build a better Mexico ‘desde abajo’ (from below).


  • B.A. North Dakota State University, 2003
  • Ph.D. University of Minnesota, 2011

Honors and Distinctions

Upper Midwest Human Rights Fellow, 2007


  • Latin American Literatures and Cultures
  • Latin American revolutions
  • Zapatismo
  • Mexico
  • Human Rights
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Subaltern studies
  • Migrant farmworkers


Center for Global Education (CGE)

Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas

Enlace Zapatista

Chano bats’i k’op

Minnesota Cuba Committee