Professor Ford's research centres on ideas and practices of order in the post-1763 British Empire and the early national United States.
Her prize-winning first book, Settler Sovereignty (Harvard UP, 2010), explains how and why North American and Australasian settler polities defined their sovereignty against indigenous customary law after 1800. Her second book, Rage for Order (Harvard UP, 2016), co-authored with Professor Lauren Benton, explores the constitutive intersections among imperial legal reform, international law and global order in the early nineteenth century.
Professor Ford is currently working on a third book, The King's Colonial Peace (contracted with Harvard UP) which will show that conflicts about peace keeping in the British Empire from 1763-1840 produced new and contested understandings of the nature of the imperial constitution. With colleagues, she is also commencing a pan-imperial study of commissions of legal inquiry which visited nearly every British colony between 1817 and 1827. This project will also test the value of corpus linguistics analysis in understanding shifts in bureaucratic legal language in empire.
Professor Ford received the 2012 Max Crawford Award, recognising 'outstanding achievement in the humanities by young Australian scholars... whose publications contribute towards an understanding of their discipline by the general public.' Her work has been funded by three major ARC grants: DP110103832, Empire and Order (2011-2013); DE120100593, Protecting the Peace (2012-2017); and DP180100537, Inquiring into Empire (2018-2022).