Halbwachs developed the concept of collective memory from his interest in how the past is made meaningful by people as individuals as well as the social groups that they belong to (family, religious communities, social class, etc). Halbwach believes that memory is a social construction and that it is the product of an individual's interaction with their social group. Halbwach argues that memory is produced within a social frame and that people only remember things in relation to the memory of others (11). People have their own personal memories but since they are apart of various social groups, even these memories may be influenced by the collective context of these groups.
Castelli thinks that collective memory is useful for understanding early Christian martyr stories because memory can relate to myth making especially when events in the past are reclaimed in the building up of collective identity (22). According to Castelli, early Christians positioned the historical experience of persecution within a framework of meaning that drew upon broader narratives of temporality, suffering, sacrifice and identity (25). Moreover, when early Christians created texts, art, liturgies, and architectural installations for martyrs, "memory" was at the center of it all (25). Even early Christian writers that wanted to preserve the story of Christian martyrdom wrote and framed each detail and interpretation in a broad narrative (25). The use of documentary evidence by these writers about persecution and martyrdom was used rhetorically to create a persuasive and continuous narrative about their history (25).
So far after reading texts like Middleton, Foucault and Castelli, I have learned a lot about Martyrdom that I definitely didn't know before. I had an inkling that martyrs were "made" by others, but I didn't know that all martyrs were not self evident. I was also not aware that the way a person died was not as important as the way they were remembered, I always figured it was their death that made them martyrs and the cause that they were dying for. I definitely did not know about death narratives in relation to cultural memory. This is probably the most interesting part of martyrdom to me, which might be because I am a folklore major and I love anything regarding myths/legends. I was surprised by the power roles present in the Foucault reading. I know that spectators/authority etc is a big part of martyrdom but I was definitely not aware by how extensive their roles are.