The history of emotions is currently a rapidly expanding field. Probing a number of important recent contributions to the field, this article discusses the central theoretical and methodological challenges that researchers must confront when interrogating emotions in different historical contexts: How should we define emotions? To what extent are they socially constituted and culturally contingent? Is there anything universal about human emotional experience? The article makes the case that the greatest challenge for historians of emotion is to conceptualize emotions in a way that captures their social constitution while at the same time implies a principle of emotional changes over time. Taking Monique Scheer’s concept of ”emotional practices” as a starting point, the article argues that it could productively be combined with theories that point to the sociopolitical effects of emotions. This conceptualization makes it possible to shift the theoretical focus away from the emotions’ ontological status towards an analysis of how emotions are done and with what effects. Examining different empirical examples from postcolonial studies, the article finally shows how the concept of emotional practices is useful to think with in analyses of the sociopolitical implications of emotions.