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Desmond King DLitt FBA

Professorial Fellow
Andrew W Mellon Professor of American Government

Desmond King is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of American Government at the University of Oxford. He has published twelve books and dozens of papers in top journals, many of which have been reprinted in edited collections. His research has explained the role of segregation in the US federal goverment and the enduring significance of its effects; why New Right ideology arose in 1980s Britain and the US; how racial inequality shaped American immigration policy; how eugenic policies amongst other illiberal schemes emerged in the US, Canada and the UK in the first half of the twentieth century; and how the executive state dealt with governance challenges during GOP populism. His main projects at present are: (a) with Rogers M. Smith, the reconfiguration of America's pro and anti civil rights policy alliances this century, the subject of their 2024 book America's New Racial Battle Lines: Protect versus Repair with University of Chicago Press; (b) with Gerda Hooijer, political elites' stances toward the role of legacies of racial-ethnic hierarchies in immigration policy; (c) with Lawrence Jacobs, redistribution and the social rights of citizenship in central bank policies; (d) with Robert Lieberman, the federal government and civil rights enforcement since the middle of the twentieth century; and (e) how the American state manages political violence. He has contributed op-eds to the Financial Times, the New York Times and Le Monde Diplomatique, and his research has been cited in these and other outlets including the Washington Post

He is an elected Fellow of many national learned societies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, as well as the British Academy and the Royal Irish Academy.  

Desmond King DLitt FBA I

David Fisher (Fisher Studios)


Publications include:

America's New Racial Battle Lines: Protect versus Repair. With Rogers M Smith. University of Chicago Press, 2024.

"The Racialized Pandemic: Wave One Covid 19 and the reproduction of Global North inequalities," Gerda Hooijer and Desmond King, Perspectives on Politics June 2022, 20: 507-527.

"Truth and Reparation for Mass Incarceration in the United States," Jennifer Page and Desmond King. Du Bois Review Firstview 2022 19: 209-232.

"Illiberalism," Jasper Kauth and Desmond King. Archives Europeenes de Sociologie/European Jrn of Sociology 2020 61: 365-405. [Cited in the New York Times April 2024.]

"Redistribution and the Politics of Spatial Inequality in America," Margaret Weir and Desmond King, in Who Gets What: The New Politics of Insecurity. CUP 2021.

Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and the Unitary  Executive. With Stephen Skowronek & John Dearborn. OUP, 2021/Revised edition 2022.

“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, 2021.

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

“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.]

“White Protectionism in America.” Rogers M Smith and Desmond King.  Perspectives on Politics. Vol 18 (2020), no 2.

“Racial parity in the public sector: The Overlooked Role of Employee Mobilization.” Isabel M. Perera and Desmond King. Politics and Society. 48 (2020). 

“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.

Separate and Unequal: African Americans and the US Federal Government. New York: OUP, 2007.

The Liberty of Strangers: Making the American Nation. New York: OUP 2005.

Making Americans: Immigration, Race and the Origins of the Diverse Democracy. Cambrudge MA: Harvard UP.

In the Name of Liberalism: Illiberal Social Policy in the USA and Britain. OUP, 1999.

Actively Seeking Work: The Poltics of Workfare in the U.S. and Britain. University of Chicago Press, 1995.