Desmond King

Distinguished Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy
Desmond King


Main bio

Desmond King is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of American Government at the University of Oxford. He specializes in the study of the American state in U.S. executive politics, race and politics in American political development, and the financial bases of U.S. 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.  

King’s research has contributed to the analysis of racial inequality and the American State, the distributional implications of Federal 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 U.S. 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). 

Updated July 2023