Academic Profile

People Feature

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, and the financial bases of US politics. 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. His research has contributed to the analysis of racial inequality and the American State, the distributional implications of Fed Reserve policy, workfare and conditionality in the welfare state, the politics of eugenic schemes, the radical right and state policy, and US immigration policy. He is the co-editor of 9 collections including Reconfiguring European States in Crisis (2017) and The Unsustainable American State (2009); and 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 Actively Seeking Work: The Politics of Workfare in the US and Britain (1995). His research papers have appeared in professional journals ranging from the American Political Science Review to Past and Present and Journal of Politics to World Politics. He has published op-eds in such outlets as the Financial Times, the New York Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, and Prospect. King collaborates on the Capitalizing of Central Banks Project (CCBP) with Professor Lawrence Jacobs (Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Minnesota), which builds on their book, Fed Power: How Finance Wins (2016).

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 is a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA), a Member of the Royal Irish Academy (MRIA), a Member of the Academia Europaea/Academy of Europe (MAE), a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS).

Desmond King


“’Race was a motivating factor’: Republicans and the Rise of Re-segregated Schools in the American states.” With Richard Johnson. Under review.

“The reinvention of education vouchers as color-blind: a racial orders account.” With Ursula Hackett.  Under r&r.

“Building a Conservative State: Partisan Polarization and the Redeployment of Administrative Power.” With S Milkis. Under review.

“The Fed’s Political Economy.” With Lawrence R Jacobs PS: Political Science and Politics, April 2018.

“Toward Transitional Justice: Black reparations and the end of Mass Incarceration,” With Jennifer Page. Ethnic and Racial Studies. (2018) 41 No 4:

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

Reconfiguring European States in Crisis. Co-edited with Patrick Le Gales. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. 

“Keeping the American Federal State Active: The Imperative of ‘Race Sensitive’ Policy.” In

The Dream Revisited: Segregation and Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century. Edited by Ingrid Gould Ellen and Justin Steil. New York; Columbia University Press, 2018.

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

Fed Power: How Finance Wins. With Lawrence Jacobs. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

“Pour les Afro-Americains, amer bilan d’une presidence noire.” Le Monde Diplomatique, Janvier 2015 pp4-5.

“The American State.” With Robert C. Lieberman. In The Oxford Handbook of American Political Development, New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

“Forceful federalism against racial inequality.” Government and Opposition, (online 01/17) 52 (April 2017):  356-282. And in Washington Post Monkey Cage op-ed, “Worried about the decline in democracy?”

“The Last Stand? Shelby County v. Holder, White political power, and America’s Racial Policy Alliances.” With Rogers M Smith. Du Bois Review 13: 1 (2016): 25-44.

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

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

Sterilized by the State: Eugenics, Race and the Population Scare in Twentieth Century North America. With Randall Hanson. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.