NUCLEAR AGE PEACE FOUNDATION WELCOMES NEW PRESIDENT
Spellberg, 34, comes to NAPF having been highly recommended by Elaine Scarry, an Advisor to the Foundation and author of Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom. She describes him as “…unfailingly kind and brilliant and visionary and steady as the north star no matter the subject or circumstances.”
He received his BA and MA from Harvard and his PhD from Princeton. It was during his undergraduate years at Harvard, as Elaine Scarry’s Research Assistant, that his attention to the dangers posed by nuclear weapons began.
In Spellberg’s view, “The highest good is a world in which the human imagination can flourish in all of its forms—from an individual’s most private thoughts to the grand systems of a culture—and be exercised by all with agency, continuity and care. We live in an era where technological and structural forces threaten such a vision of the good from all sides. Nuclear weapons are the most extreme form of this threat, promising the destruction of everything we have ever known.
But the historical structures that made nuclear weapons possible are the same that have created a planet paralyzed by inequality, racism, continuous surveillance, exploitation of the land, and the inexhaustible demands of an industrialized economic system.”
Spellberg has produced numerous essays, articles, translations, and reviews – a list far too long to mention. He taught Law, Journalism, Literature, and Composition for six years in the New Jersey prison system, at the same time helping to build a fledgling volunteer organization at Princeton into a major prison teaching institution.
His scholarly research focuses on the Indigenous cultures and languages of North America, and on the history of dreaming across different societies. Elected to the Harvard Society of Fellows in 2017, he co-founded Harvard’s Seminar on the Native Cultures of the Americas the following year. He possesses an enduring commitment to the Indigenous communities of Southeast Alaska, where he works on the study and documentation of the Tlingit language and its oral traditions.
Accomplishments aside, what most attracted the Foundation’s Board of Directors to Spellberg were qualities that don’t show up in a CV. His candor, poise, kindness and humility, as well as his deep commitment to justice and a humane vision of the world were undeniable.
When asked about his new position, Spellberg linked the legacy of NAPF to the future of the Foundation, saying, “For almost forty years the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has been a beacon in the gathering dark, illuminating these dangers and calling the hopeful to assembly. Its great strength lies in its mutually reinforcing commitments to world peace and to the beauty of the world: that is, to dismantling the nuclear prison, and to celebrating and understanding what we stand to lose if we fail to do so. I plan to continue and expand the foundation’s legacy in these two directions: fighting to change the human relationship to technology, and exploring alternatives for how we best organize our cultures and live as citizens of this planet. I am honored to be NAPF’s new President.”