Dr Kim Johnson attended Trinity College from 1968 to 1974. In 2002 he obtained his PhD for the University of the West Indies. He is currently the Director of the Carnival Institute of Trinidad and Tobago and is considered to be the foremost historian of pan.
Dr Kim Johnson has had a distinguished career in research and scholarship in the fields of history, sociology and culture. He began his career as a tutor in sociology at the University of the West Indies and continued as an academic editor for the Institute of Social and Economic Research in Trinidad. He was also a consultant sociologist for the Caribbean Conference of Churches(CCC) for which he produced studies of Haitian refugees in Guadeloupe and illegal Guyanese migrants in Suriname. Between the early 1990s and 2003, he worked as a journalist at the Trinidad Express and the Trinidad Guardian.
It was as a journalist that Dr Johnson began his major research project: a decade-long study of the steelpan movement- its history,
formation, imaginative character, and ultimately its future. He took this project with him to the University of the West Indies, where
his doctoral thesis(2002) was an oral history of the steelband movement in Trinidad.
His major research achievements include, most recently, an exhibition entitled ”The Audacity of the Creole Imagination”, staged at the National Museum of Trin idad & Tobago (2010) which displayed archival material in photographs and other ephemera which he collected over years from private collections and other difficult-to-reach sources. The exhibit included a 13-minute film that he scripted and produced. He is also working towards creating, along with other fellows of the UTT, a virtual online museum of Trinidad & Tobago.
Dr Johnson has also published extensively about the history and culture of Trinidad & Tobago and the steelband movement. His books include The Fragrance of Gold: Trinidad in the age of discovery; Renegades: the history of the Renegades Steel Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago; Descendants of the Dragon, about the Chinese presence in T&T; Tin Pan to TASPO: Steelband in Trinidad, 1939-1951, If Yuh Iron Good You Is King and The Illustrated
Story of Pan. The archive of historical photos he collected for the last book has been listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.
He has produced and directed the film “Learning To Look” about the experience of deafness and “The Radical Innocence of Jackie Hinkson”, about the artist. These were screened at the T&T Film Festival. He wrote and co-produced a docu-drama entitled “ PAN! Our Music Odyssey” which won several prizes at film festivals. It was aired in the USA on PBS and has been translated into Spanish, French and Japanese. “Re-Percussions: Our African Odyssey”, which he shot and directed in Nigeria, won the best feature documentary prize at the 2015 TT Film Festival. His film on traditional mas, “Our Soul Turned Inside Out” has been screened in several countries and translated into Spanish.
He is currently working on several projects, including a study of the popular music produced in the Americas and Caribbean, a film about youth in prison, and a documentary about the historic 1950 West Indian test cricket victory at Lord’s in London, and the calypsos that celebrate it.
In 2011 he was awarded the Anthony Sabga prize for excellence in Arts & Letters.
The Trinity College Alumni Association acknowledges Dr Kim Johnson’s contribution to Trinidad and Tobago’s culture and proudly admits him to its Hall of Fame.