The Department of History
Alfonso W. Quiroz, 1956-2013
Latin American history; Caribbean history
Alfonso W. Quiroz, Professor of History at Baruch College and the CUNY Graduate Center, passed away at age 56 from bone cancer on January 2, 2013.
Quiroz was devoted to producing cutting-edge scholarship on the economic history of Latin America. He published several books and numerous articles, most recently the book, Corrupt Circles: Costs of Unbound Graft in Peru (Woodrow Wilson Center and Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008). Quiroz received the Abraham Briloff Prize in Ethics for this book, as well as the President’s Excellence Award for Scholarship at Baruch College’s 2009 Commencement. In addition to these Baruch honors, he gained international recognition for his scholarship with awards such as a 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright, a grant from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Relations, the Robert S. McNamara Fellowship, and the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. He was member of the editorial board of the Colonial Latin America Review.
Peru is the country where Professor Quiroz was born and raised, where he first became interested in issues of Latin American economic development as an undergraduate at Universidad Católica, in Lima. In his recent work, he has used Peru as a case history to illustrate how corruption feeds on itself, undermining both democratic institutions and economic progress. The looting of Peru’s resources and interested mismanagement of its economy has, he argued in Corrupt Circles, cost the country dearly, inflicting much social harm and obstructing many promising possibilities for development.
Quiroz began teaching at Baruch in 1986 upon completing his Ph.D. at Columbia University. His courses covered Latin American and Caribbean colonial and modern history, economic history and policies, Cuban and Peruvian history, and modern world history. He had many devoted students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He continued to teach his Baruch classes in fall 2012 despite his heroic struggle with radiation and chemotherapy.
Earlier publications include Domestic and Foreign Finance in Modern Peru, 1850-1950 (1993), Deudas olvidadas: instrumentos de crédito en la economía colonial peruana 1750-1820 (1993), and La deuda defrauda: consolidación de 1850 y dominio económico en el Perú (1987), as well as articles and chapters on Peruvian colonial and modern credit, and Cuban nineteenth-century corruption, education, and socioeconomic repression. He is also co-editor and co-author of Cuban Counterpoints: The Legacy of Fernando Ortiz (2005) and The Cuban Republic and José Martí: Reception and Uses of a National Symbol (2006).
He was the curator of the centennial exhibition on propaganda and popular participation during the Spanish-American War of 1898 at the New York Public Library (“A War in Perspective, 1898-1998: Public Appeals, Spanish-American Conflict”) and at the New York Historical Society (“Militant Metropolis: New York City and the Spanish-American War, 1898”).
He was working on a book project that drew on a long-standing interest in Cuba, tentatively entitled “A History of War and Peace in Cuba from the 1770s to the 20th Century.” As he explained in a proposal, “among countries in the Atlantic world, Cuba has this unique and particularly tense experience with war,” one that began with its prolonged fight to throw off the yoke of Spain. “Even today, Cuba has a kind of siege mentality,” he said, indicating the theme of the book he had been thinking about and working on since 1992.