This article considers Lisa Feldman Barrett's challenge to Darwin's claim—popularized by Paul Ekman's cross-cultural studies—that facial expressions are intelligible across the species. Barrett considers how Ekman's research expectations normalize Eurocentric gestures; she proposes that emotions are not hardwired but constructed in a dynamic interplay of interpretation and prediction. Drawing connections between this argument and decolonial feminist challenges to prominent Western accounts of what it means to be human—including Sylvia Wynter on the “ethnoclass of Man” and Sianne Ngai on racialized and feminized “animatedness”—this article explores what assumptions might underpin claims of affective intelligibility across cultures, and develops concepts toward a decolonial feminist affect theory.

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