Academic Profile

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Desmond King

Professorial Fellow
Andrew W Mellon Professor of American Government

Research Interests: Comparative Government, Public Policy, Racial inequality in the US, American political development and state building, Illiberal social policy, Comparative welfare policy.

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 joining Nuffield as the Andrew W Mellon Professor 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. King also co-directs the Capitalizing of Central Banks Project (CCBP) with Professor Lawrence Jacobs at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota.

He is the author of 10 books including In the Name of Liberalism: Illiberal Social Policy in the US and Britain (1999), Making Americans (2002), Separate and Unequal: African Americans and the US Federal Government (2007), Still a House Divided: Race and Politics in Obama’s America with Rogers Smith (2011), Sterilized by the State: Eugenic, Race and the Population Scare in Twentieth-Century North America with Randall Hansen (2013),  and most recently, Fed Power: How Finance Wins with Larry Jacobs (2016); his research papers have appeared in leading professional journals from the American Political Science Review, to 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. 

King was elected a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2003, a Member of the Royal Irish Academy (MRIA) in 2014, a Member of the Academia Europaea/Academy of Europe (MAE) in 2016 and a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017.

Desmond King


(with Larry Jacobs), Fed Power: How Finance Wins, Oxford University Press, 2016.

(with Rogers M Smith), Still a House Divided: Politics and Race in Obama's America, Princeton University Press, 2013.

Separate and Unequal: African Americans and the Federal Government, Oxford University Press, 2007.

In the Name of Liberalism: Illiberal Social Policy in the US and Britain, Oxford University Press, 1999.

(with Randall Hanson), Sterilized by the State: Eugenics, Race and Population Policy in Twentieth Century North America, Cambridge University Press, 2013.