Academic Profile

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Desmond King DLitt FBA

Professorial Fellow
Andrew W Mellon Professor of American Government

Research Interests: The executive state; racial inequality in the US; American political development and state building, liberalism and migration, comparative welfare policy.

Desmond King is the Andrew W Mellon Professor of Government at the University of Oxford. His recent publications include: Still a House Divided: Race and Politics in the Obama Era with Rogers M Smith (Princeton, 2011), Sterilized by the State with Randall Hansen (Cambridge, 2013), Fed Power: How Finance Wins with Lawrence Jacaobs (Oxford, 2016/2021) and Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and the Unitary Executive with Stephen Skowronek and John Dearborn (Oxford 2021).  His many articles have appeared in such journals as American Political Science Review, British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Past and Present and World Politics.

King has been a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) since 2003, and is also an elected Fellow of several national academies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (FAAAS), the American Philosophical Society (MAPS), the Academia Europaea (MAE), the Royal Irish Academy (MRIA), and the National Academy of Social Insurance (FNASI). He holds a DLitt from the University of Oxford.

Desmond King I

David Fisher (Fisher Studios)


Recent publications include:

Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and the Unitary  Executive. With Stephen Skowronek & John Dearborn. OUP, 2021.

“Building a Conservative State: Partisan Polarization and the Redeployment of Administrative Power.” With N Jacobs and Sidney Milkis. Perspectives on Politics. (2019) June 17: 453-466.

“Spaces of Exception.” Gary Gerstle and Desmond King. In Joel Isaac and Gary Gerstle eds. States of Exception in American History. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2020.


Fed Power: How Finance Wins. With L R Jacobs. OUP, 2016, 250pp. Paperback 11/2017.

“The Fed’s Political Economy.” Lawrence R. Jacobs and Desmond King. PS: Political Science and Politics, (2018) 51: 727-54.


European States in Crisis. Coedited. Desmond King & Patrick Le Gales. OUP, 2017.

“The three constituencies of the state: Why the state lost unifying energy.” Desmond King and Patrick Le Gales. British Journal of Sociology. (2017) Vol 68:  S11-S33.


“Forceful federalism against racial inequality.”  Government and Opposition, 52 (April 2017):  356-282. [See Washington Post Monkey Cage op-ed, “Worried about the decline in democracy?”  11 April 2017.]

“’The Latter Day General Grant’: Forceful Federal Power and Civil Rights.” With Robert C Lieberman. Journal of Race, Ethnicity & Politics. Vol 5 2020.

“White Protectionism in America.” Rogers M Smith and Desmond King.  Perspectives on Politics. Vol 18 (2020), no 2. [Discussed in Thomas B. Edsall, “Does anyone have a clue about how to fight back against Trump’s racism,” New York Times, February 26 2020, at:

“Racial parity in the public sector: The Overlooked Role of Employee Mobilization.” Isabel M. Perera and Desmond King. Politics and Society. 48 (2020). [Op ed, “Racial Pay Parity: how African Americans made government jobs good,”on the American Sociological Association’s Work in Progress, Public Site.]

“The reinvention of education vouchers as color-blind: a racial orders account.” Ursula Hackett and Desmond King. Studies in American Political Development. 33 (2019) October: 234-257.

“’Race was a motivating factor’: Republicans and the Rise of Re-segregated Schools in the American states.” Richard Johnson and Desmond King. Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy 35:1 (2019), 75-95.

“Toward Transitional Justice: Black reparations and the end of Mass Incarceration,” Desmond King and Jennifer Page. Ethnic and Racial Studies. (2018) 41 No 4: 739-58. [Reprint: (a) Rethinking Reconciliation and Transitional Justice after Conflict editors J Hughes & Denisa Kostovicova, London: Routledge, 2019. And (b) included by Ethnic and Racial Studies in the Taylor & Francis/Routledge initiative to share scholarship in support of the fight against racism and inequality at ]

“’Without Regard to Race’: Critical Ideational Development in Modern American Racial Politics.” Desmond King and Rogers M Smith. Journal of Politics. vol 76 (2014): 958-971.

“The Civil Rights State: How the American State Develops Itself.” Desmond King & Robert C. Lieberman. In Kimberly Morgan & Ann Orloff eds. The Many Hands of the State: Political Authority and Social Control, CUP, 2017.