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Elena Lange

Elena Louisa Lange, PD Dr.

Student advisory by appointment
Current courses at the University of Zurich

Short Bio

Elena Louisa Lange (born 1976) has studied Philosophy and Japanese Studies at the University of Hamburg where she graduated with a work on Sartre and Hegel’s Logic in 2005. In 2011, she received her PhD from the University of Zurich with her dissertation “The Overcoming of the Subject: Nishida Kitarō’s Way to Ideology” which has partly been funded by the Monbushō for the University in Fukui (Japan), where she was a doctoral researcher from 2006–2008. From 2010–13, she has been assistant to Prof. Raji C. Steineck. Since 2009, Lange has been teaching classes on intellectual history, Japanese philosophy, Marxism and anarchism, and eminent Japanese intellectuals such as Tosaka Jun, Umemoto Katsumi, and Uno Kōzō. She has co-edited two books on modern Japanese philosophy ("Concepts of Philosophy in Asia and the Islamic World", Brill 2018, with Raji Steineck, Ralph Weber, and Robert Gassmann and "Begriff und Bild der modernen japanischen Philosophie", frommann-holzboog 2014), and published widely on the Critique of Political Economy, especially the theory of value and money, critical theory, method, Japanese modern intellectual history, digitalisation, and the political culture of the left, including Handbook and Encyclopedia articles. Her monograph Value without Fetish - Uno Kōzō's Theory of 'Pure Capitalism' in Light of Marx's Critique of Political Economy is published in 2020 by Brill/Historical Materialism book series. She is editorial board member of the book series Critical Theory and the Critique of Society at Bloomsburg/London, and advisory board member of the SAGE Handbook of Frankfurt School Critical Theory (ed. Bonefeld, Best, O'Kane).

Research Focus

Modern Japanese intellectual history, especially the reception of the Marxian Critique of Political Economy in Japan, Critical Theory in and outside of Japan, continental philosophy (Kant and German Idealism), theoretical philosophy (theory of dialectics, epistemology and logic), criticisms of postcolonial theory and cultural studies

Habilitation Thesis (submitted in November 2019)

In my habilitation thesis, I confront Japanese Marxian economist Uno Kōzō’s (1897-1977) theory of ‘pure capitalism’ (junsui shihonshugi) with Marx’s Critique of Political Economy in his writings since the late 1850s. In order to recapitulate the methodological, factual, epistemological and empirical misapprehensions of Marx’s project in Uno’s reception and reconstruction of the same, I highlight Marx's critique of the fetish-characteristic forms of value, or the value forms, as a the key method for his analysis and critique of the capitalist mode of production and its bourgeois interpreters as a scientific object. This impetus stands in opposition to Uno’s desideratum of 'methodological purity' of the economic categories in which the critique of fetishism as the central incentive becomes subaltern, if not disregarded. The negligence of the fetish complex, I argue, leads to a truncated and functionalist understanding of capitalist economy, and, even more fatally, helps to prolong and sustain a system of blind domination of social structures over humans, in which old fetishes persist or reinstantiate themselves as new ones, making an emancipatory development impossible. Most of all however, the categorial reconstruction of the capitalist modus operandi that was not only Marx’s, but also Uno’s incentive, becomes inadequate when the fetishistic forms that value assumes, both obfuscating its content and structuring ‘the self-presentation of value’, is left unaddressed: for leaving them unaddressed leaves these fetishised forms of value as object of cognition intact. This work critically addresses Uno’s misconceptions of Marx’s project by analysing Uno’s key texts between 1937 and 1969, with a special focus on his main work, The Principles of Political Economy (Keizai Genron) of 1950/52.


Peer Reviewed Articles

2019, ‘Money vs. Value? Reconsidering the ‘Monetary Approach’ of the ‘post’-Uno School, Benetti/Cartelier, and the Neue Marx-Lektüre’, in Historical Materialism 27 (2019), Leiden: Brill, pp. 1-35.

2019, ‘The Proof is in The Pudding. On the Necessity of Presupposition in Marx’s Critical Method’, in Bellofiore, Riccardo and Fabiani, Carla (eds.), Marx Inattuale (The Untimely Marx), Consecutio Rerum 5, Roma: Edizioni Efesto.

2019, ‘The Transformation Problem as a Problem of Fetishism’, in Filosofski Vestnik 40:3. pp. 7-26.

2017, ‘Money Theory without Fetish Character. On the Problematic Reception of the First Volume of Capital in Uno Kōzō and the Uno School’, in Elbe, Ingo et al. (eds.), Zeitschrift für kritische Sozialtheorie und Philosophie (Journal for Critical Social Theory and Philosophy), Band 4, Heft 1-2, pp. 177-209.

2016, 'The Critique of Political Economy and the New Dialectic – Marx, Hegel, and Christopher J. Arthur's ''Homology Thesis'', Crisis and Critique, vol. 3, issue 2

2015, 'Exchanging Without Exploiting - A Critique of Karatani Kôjin's The Structure of World History'. Historical Materialism - Research in Critical Marxist Theory, 23(3). Leiden: Brill, pp. 171-200.

2014, ‘Failed Abstraction: The Problem of Uno Kōzō’s Reading of Marx’s Theory of the Value Form’, Historical Materialism - Research in Critical Marxist Theory, 22(1). Leiden: Brill, pp. 1-31.

Commissioned articles, book chapters, and Interviews

2020, ‘Real Abstraction’, in The SAGE Handbook of Marxism, Alberto Toscano, Sara Farris, Svenja Bromberg (eds.), London: SAGE (forthcoming)

2019, “Voracious Appetite for Surplus Value”. Understanding the Digital Revolution with Marx’ („Heisshunger nach Mehrarbeit“. Mit Marx die digitale Revolution verstehen‘) in Butollo/Nuss (eds.), Marx und die Roboter. Vernetzte Produktion, Künstliche Intelligenz und lebendige Arbeit (Marx and the Robots. Network Production, Artificial Intelligence and Living Labour). Berlin: Dietz Verlag, pp. 38-54.

2019, ‘Form Analysis and Critique. Marx‘s Social Labour Theory of Value’, in Osborne, Peter, Alliez, Éric, and Russell, Eric-John (eds.), Capitalism: Concept, Idea, Image. Aspects of Marx‘s Capital Today, London: CRMEP Books, pp. 21-37.

2019, ‘Capital’ (Encyclopedia Entry), in Diamanti, Jeff, Pendakis, Andrew, and Szeman, Imre (eds.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Marx, London: Bloomsbury, pp. 273-281.

2018, ‘Marx’s Critique of Political Economy as Immanent Social Critique’, in Bonefeld, Werner, Best, Beverley and O’Kane, Chris (eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Frankfurt School Critical Theory, pp. 514-532.

2017, ‘Value without Fetish. Problematizing Uno Kōzōs Reading of the Value Form‘ in Liu, Joyce and Murthy, Viren (eds.): East-Asian Marxisms and Their Trajectories, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 103-118.

2017, ‘Commodity Fetishism and The Fetishism of Nothingness. On The Problem of Inversion in Marx and Nishida‘, in Murthy, Schäfer, Ward (eds.): Confronting Capital and Empire. Rethinking Kyoto School Philosophy, Brill 2017, pp. 79-104.

2017, ‘Start At Your Work Place. On Japanese Marxism‘, Interview with Historical Materialism,

2016, ‘A Crítica da Economia Política e a “Nova Dialética”. Marx, Hegel e o Problema da “Tese da Homologia” de Christopher J. Arthur‘, in Revista Opinião Filosófica, Porto Alegre, v. 07; no. 01,

2014, ‘Sur le marxisme japonais”, Période, interview published on 29 October 2014

2007, ‘The Ideology of Identity in the Thought of Nishida Kitarô‘ (with Hayashi Sho), Memoirs of the Faculty of Education and Regional Studies, University of Fukui, Series I: Humanities, 47, 2007, pp. 12-33.


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