About the RAI

About the RAI

The RAI is Oxford’s centre for the study of the United States and its place in the world.

Every year, we host more than 200 seminars, workshops, conferences and lectures which attract leading scholars, students, policymakers and public figures from across the world. Recent public events with large audiences have included discussions with Saidiya Hartman, Thomas Edsall, Claudia Rankine, and Deborah Treisman, and a series of online events exploring the 2020 Presidential election and the future of American politics. We have a podcast series, The Last Best Hope?, which has recently featured discussions with historians including Annette Gordon-Reed, Eric Foner, and Devin Fergus. 

We host around a dozen visiting fellows each academic year. We also support three junior research fellows (early career academics) and every year welcome two distinguished visiting professors, the Harmsworth Professor of American History and the John G. Winant Professor of American Government.

The RAI community includes graduate students working in the fields of History, Politics, Literature, and related disciplines. It also includes early career researchers, retired colleagues and around twenty Oxford faculty members who work on problems related to America and its place in the world. We collaborate wherever possible with colleges and other research institutes in the University. 

We are housed in an award-winning building in the centre of Oxford. At the heart of our building is the magnificent Vere Harmsworth Library, which offers the strongest collection in US history in Europe, including a wide range of digital resources. We work closely with the Vere Harmsworth Library to ensure that the aims and activities of our two institutions reinforce one another.

Our activities largely depend upon the generosity of individual benefactors, trusts and foundations – all of whom share the RAI’s commitment to world-class research.

The RAI is led by a Director, currently Professor Adam Smith. We have a small but dedicated staff, led by a full-time Administrator, Katy Long, and three part-time staff members: Richard Purkiss, Jo Steventon, and Alice Kelly. The Vere Harmsworth Librarian, Bethan Davies, is also a core member of the RAI leadership team.