Desmond King


Andrew Mellon Professor of American Government, DPIR
Professorial Fellow, Nuffield College
Emeritus Fellow, St John’s College
Government and Politics Network
Nuffield College

Professional Activities


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

Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, elected 2017

Member, Academy of Europe/Academia Europaea (MAE), elected 2016

Fellow, Royal Historical Society (FRHistS), elected 2015.

Member (Honorary), the Royal Irish Academy (MRIA), elected 2015.

Research Visitor(by invitation), Max Planck-Sciences Po Centre, 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 FellowshipLeverhulme Trust 2005-2008 (3 year buy-out).

Fellow of the British Academy (FBA), elected 2003.

Centre Fellowship, Centre for Advanced Studies in the Behavioural Sciences. Stanford University. Awarded February 1993 (not taken up).


  • Comparative Government
  • Public Policy
  • Racial inequality in the US
  • American political development and state building
  • Illiberal social policy
  • Comparative welfare policy


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


Selected publications

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:

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, 2011; pb 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.  1995.  NY: OUP, 2007

Making Americans: Immigration, Race and the Origins of the Diverse Democracy.  2000. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; p 2002.  

“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.

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