Scholars from around the state will gather at UCSB on Feb. 26 to discuss the Mexican Revolution, the major civil war that initiated that country’s transition to modern nationhood.

“The Mexican Revolution of 1910: A Centennial Conference” will explore the meaning and legacy of the revolution a century later, not only for Mexico but for the millions of Mexicans who have crossed the border into the United States during the past 100 years.

The conference will begin at 2 p.m. in the McCune Conference Room, 6020 Humanities and Social Sciences Building. It is free and open to the public.

Speakers will include Ramón Eduardo Ruiz, professor emeritus at UC San Diego and a leading historian of the Mexican Revolution, who will give the keynote address; Kathleen Bruhn, professor of political science at UCSB; and Alex Saragoza, professor of ethnic studies at UC Berkeley.

In addition, the conference will premiere the documentary The Wind That Swept Mexico, which will air on public television this fall. Producer Raymond Telles will introduce and discuss the film.

Ruiz will speak on “Remember the Mexican Revolution,” while Bruhn will discuss “The Ghost of Pancho Villa: The Contemporary Relevance of the Mexican Revolution.” Saragoza will address “Cross-Border Meanings of the Mexican Revolution.”

“It is only appropriate that here at UCSB, in an area that was once a part of Mexico, with its proximity to Mexico, and with its large Mexican-origin population, that we remember the centennial with this special event,” said Mario García, professor of history and Chicana and Chicano studies. He is organizing the conference with Saragoza.

Although independent from colonial Spain since 1821, Mexico did not have a strong identity as a nation because of civil conflict, ethnic and geographic divisions, and foreign invasion, García said.

The imposition of a strong-armed dictatorship headed by Porfirio Díaz from 1877 to 1910 opened Mexico to foreign economic control. This influence only exacerbated Mexico’s disunity, García said. The Mexican Revolution of 1910 not only successfully overthrew the Díaz dictatorship, but promoted a national identity centered on Mexico’s mestizo — or mixed population and culture — as well as revived appreciation for its indigenous roots. Despite the violence and heavy loss of life, a more unified and nationalistic Mexico emerged following several years of civil war.

“Contemporary Mexico is the result of the Mexican Revolution,” García said.

“The Mexican Revolution of 1910: A Centennial Conference” is dedicated to Luis Leal, professor emeritus of Chicana and Chicano studies at UCSB and an internationally recognized scholar of Mexican, Chicano, and Latin American literature. Leal, who wrote widely on the Mexican Revolution, died Jan. 25 at age 102.