Joseph Gardner is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on the role played by traditional institutions and cultural norms in shaping contemporary conflicts. His dissertation examines the ways in which differing family structures and marriage patterns can contribute to greater vulnerability to civil war violence and dynastic political conflicts. He has also conducted extensive research on the influence of religion in shaping both domestic and foreign policies, the strategic interactions between states and kidnapping organizations, and the role played by informal cultural institutions in the governance of weakly institutionalized states. He holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago and an M.A. in Political Science from U.C. Berkeley.