, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 43-53,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 13 Dec 2008

Migration and Ethnobotanical Practices: The Case of Tifey Among Haitian Immigrants in Cuba


Ethnobotanical knowledge and practices are dynamic and they change as they are transferred and appropriated by people who are adapting to new surroundings and changing environments. Using tifey, a multispecies drink, as a case study, we discuss the changes that emigration brought about related to tifey, and the processes that determined these changes. Tifey is a Haitian drink prepared by soaking Artemisia absinthium and other plants in rum or aguardiente. It probably had its origin in the adoption of the absinthe-based liquor used by French settlers and troops during the colonial period. Haitians progressively added culturally relevant flavorings and medicinal plants to this drink, and differentiated its production and use for medicinal, medicinal food, ritual (religious and social), and economic purposes. When Haitians migrated to Cuba, they brought tifey with them, but over the course of the twentieth century its use declined and its composition changed due to sociocultural factors such as the dissolution of Haitian settlements, and to ecological factors such as difficulty in cultivation and/or procurement of A. absinthium in the new environment.