Ian Johnson is a Pulitzer-Prize winning writer focusing on society, religion, and history. He lives in Beijing, which has been his home for more than 20 years.
Johnson first went to China as a student in Beijing from 1984 to 1985, and then in Taipei from 1986 to 1988. He later worked as a newspaper correspondent in China, from 1994 to 1996 with Baltimore's The Sun, and from 1997 to 2001 with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered macro economics, China's WTO accession and social issues.
In 2009, Johnson returned to China, and since then has lived there as a writer for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and other publications. He teaches undergraduates at The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies, and has served as an advisor to academic journals and think tanks, such as the Journal of Asian Studies, the Berlin-based think tank Merics, and New York University's Center for Religion and Media.
In 2018 he was accepted as a doctoral candidate at Germany's Leipzig University, where he is writing a thesis on Chinese religious groups and their relationship to the state.
He has also worked in Germany twice. From 1988 to 1992 he attended graduate school in West Berlin and worked a a free-lancer, covering the fall of the Berlin Wall and German unification for Baltimore's The Sun, The St. Petersburg Times, The Toronto Star, and other newspapers. In 2001 he moved back to Berlin, working until 2009 as The Wall Street Journal's Germany bureau chief and senior writer. He headed coverage of European macro-economics, and wrote about social issues such as Islamist terrorism.
He has won the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of China, as well as two awards from the Overseas Press Club, and an award from the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2017, he won Stanford University's Shorenstein Journalism Award for his body of work covering Asia. In 2019 he won the American Academy of Religion's "best in-depth newswriting" award.
In 2006-07 he spent a year as a Nieman fellow at Harvard University, and later received research and writing grants from the Open Society Foundation, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and the Alicia Patterson Foundation. In 2020, he was an inaugural grantee of the Robert B. Silvers Foundation for work-in-progress.
Johnson has published three books and contributed chapters to three others. His newest book, The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao, describes China's religious revival and its implications for politics and society.
His other books are on civil society and grassroots protest in China (Wild Grass, 2004) and Islamism and the Cold War in Europe (A Mosque in Munich, 2010). He has also contributed chapters to: My First Trip to China (2011), Chinese Characters (2012), and the Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China (2016).
Johnson was born in Montreal, Canada, and holds dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship.