Wives’ Tales on Research in Bountiful
This chapter develops research strategies designed to access and record the narratives of women within a plural marriage society, with a view to enhancing legal and popular knowledge about polygamy in Canada. It achieves this end through reliance on scholarship that explores methods for conducting reflexive research from a feminist viewpoint. Two particular research strategies explored in the feminist scholarship are considered here with particular reference to Bountiful, British Columbia, a community where plural marriage is openly practised. These strategies require the researcher to (1) hear and give credence to the narratives of women regarding their experiences as polygamous wives; and (2) engage in critical self-reflection about her own cultural and normative reference points and assumptions. These strategies are relied on to formulate a distinctly juridical inquiry that rejects any presumed preference of state over cultural “law” while at the same time rigourously testing claims about gender and tradition grounded in cultural norms. Applying this inquiry to the study of polygamy in Bountiful, British Columbia, should serve to enrich our understanding of how women are affected by plural marriage, and by law’s response to this practice.