In recent years, research has focussed on the ‘neoliberalization’ of volunteering programmes in the developing South. Commonly cited processes include an uncritical pedagogy of development and a heavy emphasis on ‘difference making’ and curriculum vitae building. These neoliberalizing processes, research finds, have come to shape the affective and emotional experience of volunteers on placement. This article presents an alternative reading of the embodied experience of volunteering. Affect here is understood as autonomous and explored as a potential ‘outside’ to formations of power and neoliberalization. The discussion begins with a critical reading of the British government’s International Citizen Service programme, drawing out its neoliberalized construction of volunteers as ‘global citizens’. The article then moves on to present affective data from fieldwork carried out on International Citizen Service projects in India. The argument is made that neoliberalism need not be the only frame of analysis; volunteers experience rich inter-subjectivities that cannot (and should not) be easily attributed to processes of neoliberalization. The resulting account writes into being the affective life on placement as potentially autonomous of expressions of power and neoliberalization.