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Prof Desmond King
Role : Andrew W Mellon Professor of American Government
Job Title : Professorial Fellow
Academic Group : Politics
College Group : Politics
University Department : Politics and International Relations
Research Interests : Comparative Government and American Politics. Comparative public policy; democratization; immigration; politics of social research.
Telephone : +44(0)1865 278578
Nuffield College
New Road
Oxford, OX1 1NF
United Kingdom


Biographical Sketch


Desmond King specializes in the study of the American state in US executive politics, race and politics in American political development, comparative welfare politics and labour market policy, democratization and immigration policy. Before coming to Nuffield in 2002, he was a Fellow and Professor of Politics at St John’s College, Oxford of which he is now an Emeritus Fellow, and a Lecturer in Government at the London School of Economics. He is the author of 10 books including Making Americans (2002), Separate and Unequal: African Americans and the US Federal Government (2007), Still a House Divided with Rogers Smith (2011) and most recently, Fed Power: How Finance Wins with Larry Jacobs (2016); his research papers have appeared in such journals as the American Political Science Review, British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Politics, Past and Present, and World Politics. He held a Nuffield Foundation Social Science Research Fellowship in 1997-98, a British Academy Research Readership in 2000-2002, and a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship 2005-08.  He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2003, a Member of the Royal Irish Academy (MRIA) in 2014, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS) in 2015 and a Member of the Academia Europaea/Academy of Europe (MAE) in 2016.​


DLitt. (Doctor of Letters) (2015), University of Oxford.
PhD. (1985) and M.A. (1981) in Political Science, Northwestern University.  
Recipient of the David Minar dissertation Award.
B.A. Moderatorship (Honours) in Political and Social Science (1979), Trinity College Dublin. 
First Class Honours (1979).  Bastable Prize (co-recipient) for top placing in Final Honours School.

Selected fellowships and distinctions.

Fellow, Royal Historical Society (FRHistS), elected 2015.
Member (Honorary), the Royal Irish Academy (MRIA), elected 2015.
Research Visitor (by invitation), Max Planck-Sciences Po Center, Sciences Po, Paris, September 2014.
President (by election), Politics & History Section of American Political Science Association, 2012-13.
Fellow, (by invitation) Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law & Justice, NYU School of Law 2013-2014.
Academician/Fellow, Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS), invited 2013.
Choice “Oustanding Academic Book” 2012 for Still a House Divided: Race and Politics in Obama’s America with Rogers M Smith,
  Princeton UP.
Major Research Fellowship, Leverhulme Trust 2005-2008 (3 year buy-out).
Fellow of the British Academy (FBA), elected 2003. 
Center Fellowship, Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. Stanford University. Awarded February 1993 (not taken up).

Research & supervision interests:

I am happy to discuss supervision with potential students in these areas: racial and ethnic inequality, espeically in the US; American politicial development, especially in respect to state building, executive politics and domestic policy issues; comparative political economy, including welfare and labour market policy.

Selected publications by topic.

American political economy:
Fed Power: How Finance Wins (with Lawrence Jacobs),  forthcoming.
Obama at the Crossroads: Politics, Markets and the Battle for America’s Future. Coedited with Lawrence R Jacobs. NY: OUP, 2012.
“The Political Economy of Neoliberalism: Britain and the United States in the 1980s.” With Stewart Wood. In H Kitschelt, P Lange, G Marks & J Stephens  eds. Continuity and Change in Contemporary Capitalism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999) 371-397.
Comparative welfare and labour market policy:
“Cheap Labor: The New Politics of ‘Bread and Roses’ in Industrial Democracies,” (with David Rueda) Perspectives on Politics, 6 (2008):  279-297.
In the Name of Liberalism: Illiberal Social Policy in the USA and Britain1999.   Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press,
Actively Seeking Work? The Politics of Unemployment and Welfare Policy in the United States and Britain.  1995.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Racial inequality in the US:
A discussion post-Ferguson issues in: Le Monde Diplomatique in the Janvier 2015 issue entitled “Pour les Afro-Americains, amer bilan d’une presidence noire,” which can be accessed at: 
Shelby County v. Holder and white political power in modern America.”  With Rogers M. Smith.  Du Bois Review, forthcoming.
“’Without Regard to Race’: Critical Ideational Development in Modern American Racial Politics.” With Rogers M. Smith. Journal of Politics. Vol 76 (2014): 958-971.
“America’s civil rights state: Amelioration, Stagnation or Failure?” in Developments in American Politics 7. London: Palgrave, 2014: 263-283.
Still a House Divided. Race and Politics in Obama’s America. With Rogers M. Smith.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013.
“Racial Orders in American Political Development.” (with Rogers M Smith) American Political Science Review 99 (2005): 75-92.
“Barack Obama and the Future of American Racial Politics,” (with Rogers M Smith)  Du Bois Review, 6 (2009): 25-35.
Separate and Unequal: African Americans and the US Federal Government.  New York: OUP, 2007
Making Americans: Immigration, Race and the Origins of the Diverse Democracy.  2002. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
“De-Centering the South: America’s Nationwide White Supremacist Order after Reconstruction,” (with Stephen Tuck)  Past and Present No. 194 (February) 2007) 219-257.
“The Racial Bureaucracy: African Americans and the Federal Government In the Era of Segregated Race Relations.” Governance 12 (1999) 345-77.
American political development and state building:
“Ironies of the American State”  (with Robert C Lieberman) World Politics 61 (July 2009) 547-588.
Democratization in America. Coedited with Robert Lieberman et al Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.
The Unsustainable American State. Coedited with Lawrence R Jacobs. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
“The State and Democratization: The United States in Comparative Perspective” (with Francisco E Gonzalez) British Journal of Political Science  34 (2004), 193-210.
“From Workers to Enemies: National Security, State Building and America’s War on Illegal Immigrants” (with Ines Valdez) in Michael Bass ed. Narrating Peoplehood Amidst Diversity: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives Aarhus: University of Aarhus Press, 2011: 145-182.
Illiberal social policy:
“Eugenic Ideas, Political Interests and Policy Variance: Immigration and Sterilization Policy in Britain and the US,” (with Randall Hansen). World Politics 53 (2001) 237-263.
“Making People Work: Democratic Consequences of Workfare,” in Lawrence M Mead ed  Welfare Reform and Political Theory,(New York:  Russell Sage  Foundation, 2005) 65-81.
Sterilized by the State: Eugenics, Race and the Population Scare in Twentieth Century North America. With Randall Hansen. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Hb & pb, details of which can be found at:
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