A professor of anthropology, folklore and ethnomusicology and an accomplished scholar in the field, Maria Hnaraki has extensively researched cultural identity expressions, traditions and customs, such as music and dance events in the Mediterranean, as well as investigated topics in nissology, experiential learning and hybrid educational environments. She favors investigating who people are and how they behave through the arts they create and the customs they observe, coming to the conclusion that “we are all amalgams of many influences and that the same things happen all over the world in different ways.”
Hnaraki holds a Diploma of Arts in Music Studies from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens-Greece (1996), an M.A. in Folklore and Ethnomusicology (1999) and a Ph. D. in Folklore and Ethnomusicology from Indiana University in Bloomington (2002). Additionally, she has a Piano Soloist Diploma from the Hellenic Conservatory of Athens (1997) and degrees in Theory, Pedagogy and Music Education from the National Conservatory of Athens, while she has also received numerous awards, honors and fellowships.
Hnaraki is currently the Director of Greek Studies and an Associate Teaching Professor at Drexel University, Philadelphia. Her wide-ranging circle of activities include, among others, presentations in international conferences on several topics such as contemporary Greek society and its diasporas, cultural identities in the Mediterranean, learning pedagogy, cultural aspects of the Greek language, literature and the other arts, music and dance, publications of book reviews and articles in journals and periodicals, translations, instruction of folk songs and dances, co-organization and performance in music and dance ensembles as well as coordination of various events such as lectures, concerts, theatrical performances, movie showings, and Mediterranean Diet symposia. Due to her almost inherited abilities in researching and using archives, she keeps enriching a patrilineal collection of audio-visual as well as written sources. Last, but not least, she constantly pursues collaborations with multiple organizations and significantly outreaches to innovative Greek businesses.
While at Cornell University, Hnaraki founded a study abroad program in Crete-Greece which she has been expanding and enriching since then. At Drexel University, she has created more than 30 university courses, several of which are unique in the USA, with the educational purpose of implementing an integral, holistic, interdisciplinary, academic approach to the Greek and Mediterranean reality.
Her 2007 book Cretan Music: Unraveling Ariadne’s Thread has received the “Young Academic Writer and Researcher” price from the Pancretan Association.